Ecology, growth and management of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.), a non-native species integrated into European forests.
Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.), a species native to the eastern North America, was introduced to Europe probably in 1601 and currently extends over 2.3 × 106 ha. It has become naturalized in all sub-Mediterranean and temperate regions rivaling Populus spp. as the second most planted broadleaved tree species worldwide after Eucalyptus spp. This wide-spreading planting is because black locust is an important multipurpose species, producing wood, fodder, and a source of honey as well as bio-oil and biomass. It is also important for carbon sequestration, soil stabilization and re-vegetation of landfills, mining areas and wastelands, in biotherapy and landscaping. In Europe, black locust is drought tolerant so grows in areas with annual precipitation as low as 500-550 mm. It tolerates dry, nutrient poor soils but grows best on deep, nutrient-rich, well-drained soils. It is a fast-growing tree and the height, diameter and volume growth peak before the age of 20. It mostly regenerates vegetatively by root suckers under a simple coppice system, which is considered the most cost-effective management system. It also regenerates, but less frequently, by stool sprouts. Its early silviculture in production forests includes release cutting to promote root suckers rather than stool shoots, and cleaning-respacing to remove low-quality stems, reduce the number of shoots per stool, and adjust spacing between root suckers. In addition, early, moderate and frequent thinning as well as limited pruning are carried out focusing on crop trees. The species is regarded as invasive in several European countries and its range here is expected to expand under predicted climate changes.