Black locust, or Robinia pseudoacacia, is a medium sized deciduous tree with an upright narrow crown, typically growing to about 50 feet (15m) though it can reach 70. The trunk is long and the branching twisted and picturesque. It has compound leaves which develop little autumn color but the most desirable characteristic of Black locust is the spring bloom. The flowers are pendulous clusters, creamy white, growing in 8 inch long racemes, and possess exquisite fragrance. A stand of Black locusts in full bloom is an intoxicating experience and the honey bees love them even more. And Black locust honey is considered the finest.
Black locust is fast growing and often planted for wind breaks and erosion control, and being a legume, it fixes nitrogen from the air with nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots, meaning that it doesn't require nitrogen fertilizers to grow and it enriches the soil and provides nitrogen for other plants. So if there is a rough, over exposed bit of ground, a Black locust could be a quick fix especially until slower growing, more permanent trees become established.
Black locust is a native of North America that is found from Canada south to the Gulf coast. The tree was brought to Europe long ago and it has naturalized there. It is also successful in temperate New Zealand and Australia.

There are several notable cultivars, two of which are: Purple Robe locust (Robinia x ambigua ‘Idahoensis’) and Golden locust (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’).

As always, a tree this rare is not likely to be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries.

Black locust


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