Spring Planting, Honey Locust (Gleditsia tricanthos)

Today I planted the first of six Honey Locust trees I sprouted from seed.

Honey Locust

Honey Locust

This is a low spot in a water runoff area.  I dug deeper, filled with deadwood, and planted on top.  I put a few rocks on the downhill side to slow runoff long enough to sink in.  The rocks are bigger than they look in the photo, and I will add a few more from uphill.  This is a fairly damp spot, because the soil was damp about 2 inches down.  I had a whole dead tree close at hand, so I hauled the rest of it to raised bed 7.  It came apart in chunks, easy for me.

Honey Locust Seedling

Honey Locust Seedling

The seedling is smack in the middle of this photo, nearly invisible, but on his own.  Such a tiny baby!

Honey Locust are native to central North America.  They and their cousins have been planted all over the world, especially in dry areas, and are a productive food crop and medicinal.  It takes 10 years to produce beans, but it will continue to produce them for 100 years thereafter.  A marvel like that should be revered.

Even better, Honey Locust leafs out late and goes bare early, with a lacey canopy underneath.  It allows enough light through that you can grow a wide range of plants underneath, if you have enough water.

The green pods have a sweet pulp that can make sugar, be fermented for a beer, or drank as a sweet refresher.  When young, the peas onside taste much like their cousin, sweet garden peas, and are high in protein, and up to 30 percent sugar.

Mature beans can be boiled and eaten like any other bean.  Roast beans for a coffee substitute.

Honey Locust are included in my spiny perimeter planting, along with Tree Cholla and prickly pear.  They get massive spines on them.  If kept trimmed, they make an impenetrable hedge.  The seedlings have not started leafing out yet, but I expect snow tonight anyway.  A good result of the hedge will be its use on the north side as a wind barrier

These spiney Honey Locust will prevent my neighbor from using my driveway as they get larger.  She came out today to talk about it while I was planting this tiny baby, and tried to convince me to not shut off that access.  In the end she pretty well admitted that big delivery vehicles have done damage to her driveway so she prefers to have them come in [and damage] my driveway instead.  She created an opening in her fence to allow that.

A few weeks ago this same neighbor ordered a truck load of gravel to come in and gravel access from my driveway in to her house.  I halted that and the gravel guy would not do it against my will.

If you can even see the tiny seedling in the photo… you have to laugh at the thought of it keeping a massive propane truck from crossing my property!  What it (and its attendant rocks) say is that I have not given permission to cross my land.  I will plant five more and create a hedge.

Although Honey Locust are not native to New Mexico, I found a good sized dead one uphill, brought by a bird, perhaps, they are planted in yards around the area. It may have been old, my trees don’t get large.

Honey Locust are a good wildlife species because the spines protect smaller species from predators.  No hawk is going to dive bomb right into a Honey Locust going after small birds.  Beyond the birds, it provides winter food for deer, squirrels, rabbits, hogs, quail,  as well as cows, goats, sheep, and pigs.  It is a host plant for some of our native butterflies.

Because I am studying herbals, I looked this plant up and it has many medicinal uses that I will study more.

Honey Locust have pretty yellow flowers with an intense rosy scent, very sweet. Its yellow fall foliage is beautiful.  Like fences, Honey Locust can make good neighbors.

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About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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5 Responses to Spring Planting, Honey Locust (Gleditsia tricanthos)

  1. thefreeorg says:

    Interesting species! I’m curious, don’t you have to plant in winter, or is it from a big pot? Don’t you mulch it to keep it moist? Why no other vegetation,is it so dry there?

    • Hello Mike,
      Welcome! I get about 16 inches rain, average, per year. I planted the Honey Locust to get more water due to accumulation in that spot. I look for a microclimate, especially dampness in this garden. I am planting in late winter here, it was 22°F last night, so it is dormant still. The little seedling survived the winter in a one gallon pot, and I hope it survives summer. Burying moisture-laden deadwood with it will increase its odds of survival. My last frost date is May 1, and some wait till June to plant. If a plant is in a pot and already acclimated to outdoors, it is safe enough to plant if the soil is not frozen.

  2. thefreeorg says:

    I will try your technique of putting deadwood under the sapling, We live in the forested hills outside Barcelona. I still have to plant out a few cherries and a walnut, they sprout by themselves but right under the mother tree so I put them in big pots for a year to move them. Will look out for Honey Locust!
    Seems like the equivalent of the Juniper Piñon here is the ‘Encina’, the evergreen mediterranean oak, which has a spiky bushlike cousin that can live in very rocky arid places, the acorns feed the wild pigs, etc.
    Another tree that might survive your climate is the Pinus Piñonero which tolerates extremes, resists fire and gives us wonderful pine nuts, though not many.
    Best luck with your forest garden!…………….. m

    • I think you will like the results, I do not water them beyond planting and have a good survival rate. I ordered bareroot filberts this year, and they should be in soon. Your climate is similar to mine, some of my herbs come from that area. I like swales, but have too many trees already to try it here, so always look for a low spot. This one was bulldozed and never recovered.

    • I forgot, I have many deciduous Gambel oaks, most about knee high! The mule deer eat them down every winter. I have a few that I protected that are a little bigger now. They haven’t had much chance to produce acorns because of deer, but as they get bigger, I hope to get a good crop. They are a type of white oak, hopefully less tannins. I unsuccessfully tried to transplant a tiny one to my front yard, it had a root to China already. When I find an acorn or three I will plant them in my front yard.

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