Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Gleditsia triacanthos
(honey locust)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Gleditsia triacanthos
  • Preferred Common Name
  • honey locust
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • This species is a thorny, woody legume tree that has a tendency to be an aggressive colonizer. Root suckers and abundant seed production gives an ability to rapidly form dense, impenetrable stands. Thornless clones are still widely planted for orname...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
G. triacanthos, usually growing up to 20-25 m, umbrella-shaped crown.
TitleMature tree
CaptionG. triacanthos, usually growing up to 20-25 m, umbrella-shaped crown.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
G. triacanthos, usually growing up to 20-25 m, umbrella-shaped crown.
Mature treeG. triacanthos, usually growing up to 20-25 m, umbrella-shaped crown.©K.M. Siddiqui
Young tree in a garden, Italy.
TitleYoung tree
CaptionYoung tree in a garden, Italy.
CopyrightGiovanni Bernetti
Young tree in a garden, Italy.
Young treeYoung tree in a garden, Italy.Giovanni Bernetti
TitleThorns and leaves
Caption
CopyrightGiovanni Bernetti
Thorns and leavesGiovanni Bernetti
TitlePods
Caption
CopyrightGiovanni Bernetti
PodsGiovanni Bernetti
Leaves are pinnate (20-30 leaflets) or bipinnate.
TitleTwig showing foliage and thorns
CaptionLeaves are pinnate (20-30 leaflets) or bipinnate.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Leaves are pinnate (20-30 leaflets) or bipinnate.
Twig showing foliage and thornsLeaves are pinnate (20-30 leaflets) or bipinnate.©K.M. Siddiqui

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Gleditsia triacanthos L.

Preferred Common Name

  • honey locust

Variety

  • Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis (L.) C. K. Schneid.

Other Scientific Names

  • Acacia americana Stokes
  • Acacia inermis Steudel
  • Acacia laevis Steudel
  • Acacia triacanthos Gron.
  • Caesalpiniodes triacanthum (L.) Kuntze
  • Gleditsia brachycarpa (Michaux) Pursh
  • Gleditsia bujotii Neumann
  • Gleditsia bujotii var. pendula Rehder
  • Gleditsia elegans Salisb.
  • Gleditsia ferox var. nana Rehder
  • Gleditsia flava Steudel
  • Gleditsia heterophylla Raf.
  • Gleditsia horrida Salisb.
  • Gleditsia inermis L.
  • Gleditsia inermis var. elegantissima Ch. Grosdemange.
  • Gleditsia laevis G. Don
  • Gleditsia latifolia Lavallee
  • Gleditsia latisilique Steudel
  • Gleditsia meliloba Walter
  • Gleditsia micracantha Steudel
  • Gleditsia polysperma Stokes
  • Gleditsia sinensis var. nana Asch. & Graebner
  • Gleditsia sinensis var. nana Loudon
  • Gleditsia spinosa Marsh
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. brachycarpos Michaux
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. bujotii (Neumann) Rehder
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. horrida Aiton
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis (L.) Castigl.
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis Willd.
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. laevis Koch
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. macrocarpos Michaux
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. nana Henry
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. polysperma Aiton
  • Gleditsia triacanthus Miller
  • Melilobus heterophyla Raf.

International Common Names

  • English: gledichia; honey shucks locust; honeylocust; honey-locust; soltpeul; sweet bean locust; sweet locust; thorn tree; thornless honey-locust; three-thorned acacia
  • Spanish: acacia de tra espinas; acacia negra; acacias de tres espinas; espina de Cristo
  • French: carouge miel; fevier d'Amérique
  • Portuguese: espinheiro-da-Virginia

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Dreidornige Gledischie; dreidornige Gleditschie
  • Italy: acacia spinosa; gledischia; spino di Cristo; spino di Giuda
  • Netherlands: christusdoorn

EPPO code

  • GLIHE (Gleditsia heterophylla)
  • GLITR (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Trade name

  • common honey locust
  • honey locust

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page This species is a thorny, woody legume tree that has a tendency to be an aggressive colonizer. Root suckers and abundant seed production gives an ability to rapidly form dense, impenetrable stands. Thornless clones are still widely planted for ornamental purposes. G. triacanthos is an invasive weed in Australia and the USA, notably in the states of Queensland, Califormia and New York. It appears to require warm (temperate or mediterranean) climates with moist (moist semi-arid to sub-humid) conditions to become invasive, though actual requirements are far from clear, and human influences are also probable.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
  •                                 Genus: Gleditsia
  •                                     Species: Gleditsia triacanthos

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

G. triacanthos is one of 14 species in the genus Gleditsia (family Fabacaeae, subfamily Caesalpiniodeae). There are many ornamental cultivars of G. triacanthos. The US common name (honey-locust) derives from the Christian tradition: it is reported that John the Baptist fed on 'locusts' while he was living in the desert. According to one interpretation they could have been carob (Ceratonia siliqua) fruits; therefore, the carob-like American species gained the common name of honey or sweet locust.

Description

Top of page G. triacanthos is a medium-sized tree, in natural stands usually growing to 21-25 m, with a dbh of 60-100 cm; as an exotic in India it grows up to 45 m tall, and 180 cm dbh. It has attractively-arranged branches ascending in the lower part of the stem and horizontal in the upper one, resulting in an umbrella-like crown form. The crown is variable in shape, from narrow and plume-like to moderately wide. The stem form is straight, with a round cross section, often short and divided near the ground. The bark of mature trunks is usually 0.6-3.5 cm thick with narrow ridges divided by fissures, peeling in strips. Branches are densely armed with reddish, simple or compound stout thorns, flattened at the base. The roots are fibrous and thick and form a deep, widely spreading and profusely branched root system, with a strong taproot. This generalized root system is adaptable to environmental conditions and enables G. triacanthos to grow on both upland and lowlands sites. For example, young saplings on upland clay soils can produce root systems that are about twice as long as those of older trees growing in lowland alluvial soils with higher water tables (Fowells, 1965). Deep soils can be penetrated as far as 3-6 m.

Leaves are pinnate (20-30 leaflets) or bipinnate in the same tree. Leaflets are sessile, acute, ovate, 2-3 cm long, finely crenate and bright green, turning golden-yellow before leaf fall. G. triacanthos is polygamo-dioecious. The flowers are small, greenish, actinomorphic, borne in axillary, racemes of staminate flowers, 5-7(-13) cm long, pubescent, and often clustered. The calyx is campanulate, with five elliptic-lanceolate lobes; there are 4-5 petals, erect, oval, and longer than the calyx lobes; and up to 10 stamens, inserted on the calyx tube. The pistil is rudimentary or absent in the staminate flowers. Pistillate racemes are 5-8 cm long, slender, with few flowers, and usually solitary. The pistils are tomentose, the ovary nearly sessile, and the style short; there may be two ovules or many. The stamens are much smaller and abortive in pistillate flowers. Seeds, borne in long (15-41 cm), flat, indehiscent, sickle-shaped and often twisted pods, 30-40 cm long and glossy dark brown or purplish-brown with sweet, edible pulp. Seeds are oval, dark brown and 7-8 mm long.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

Top of page The native range of G. triacanthos is North American, extending from central Pennsylvania, USA through southern Ontario, Canada, and southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, and southeastern Minnesota to southeastern South Dakota; south through eastern Nebraska to eastern Texas; east to Alabama; and northeast along the western slopes of the Appalachians. Isolated populations also occur in northwestern Florida. G. triacanthos is naturalized east of the Appalachian mountains as far north as Nova Scotia, Canada. Scattered relic populations of G. triacanthos have also been found in Mexico (Briones, 1988).

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
IndiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
-Indian PunjabPresentIntroduced Planted
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroduced Planted
IranPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
IraqPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
NepalPresentIntroduced Planted
PakistanPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
Russian Federation
-Russia (Asia)PresentIntroduced Planted
TurkeyPresentIntroduced Planted

Africa

GhanaPresentIntroduced Planted
MauritiusPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
MozambiquePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Planted
TunisiaPresentIntroduced Planted
UgandaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
ZimbabwePresentILDIS, 2003

North America

CanadaPresentIntroduced Planted
-Nova ScotiaPresentILDIS, 2003
-OntarioPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
MexicoPresentNativePlanted, NaturalBriones, 1988
USAPresentPlanted, Natural
-AlabamaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-ArkansasPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Isely , 1975; Thompson et al., 1998
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedPlanted, Natural
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-DelawarePresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-FloridaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-GeorgiaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-IllinoisPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-IndianaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-IowaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-KansasPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-KentuckyPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-LouisianaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-MarylandPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-MichiganPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-MississippiPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-MissouriPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-NebraskaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-NevadaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Invasive Isely , 1975
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-OhioPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-OklahomaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-TennesseePresentNativeIsely , 1975
-TexasPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975
-UtahPresentIntroducedIsely , 1975
-VirginiaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-West VirginiaPresentNativeIsely , 1975
-WisconsinPresentNativePlanted, NaturalIsely , 1975

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted ILDIS, 2003
UruguayPresentIntroduced Planted

Europe

AustriaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
BulgariaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
CyprusPresentIntroduced Planted
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
FrancePresentIntroducedForoughbakhch et al., 1997; ILDIS, 2003
GermanyPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
GreecePresentIntroduced Planted
HungaryPresent Planted
ItalyPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
MontenegroPresentIntroducedSimovich-Tosic and Skuhrava, 1995
PolandPresentIntroduced Planted
PortugalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
RomaniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2003
Russian FederationPresentIntroduced Planted
SerbiaPresentIntroduced Planted Simovich-Tosic and Skuhrava, 1995
SpainPresentIntroducedEstal et al., 1998; ILDIS, 2003
SwitzerlandPresentIntroduced Planted
UKPresentIntroduced Planted
UkrainePresentIntroduced Planted
Yugoslavia (former)Present Planted

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Planted
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted ILDIS, 2003
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted ILDIS, 2003
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2003
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2003
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Planted

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page From the 1600s, G. triacanthos was introduced to other states in the USA, and later to South America, Europe, Africa, west and South Asia.

Risk of Introduction

Top of page It is likely that G. triacanthos will be further introduced internationally as a valuable ornamental and shelterbelt species. Whereas the commercially available (patented) thornless clones may pose less of a risk, thorny material from rootstocks or contamination of seed or scions may occur. G. triacanthos is a declared noxious weed in some states of Australia.

Habitat

Top of page G. triacanthos is native to the hardwood forests of eastern, central and southern USA, and is one of the hardiest, most adaptable and most useful tree species known there. It thrives in climates ranging from cold-temperate to subtropical within its native habitat and has been grown successfully in tropical conditions where it has been introduced. It is drought- and frost-tolerant and grows in all types of soil. It is an attractive ornamental or shade tree for hedges, shelterbelts, avenues, etc., and is thus found in urban and roadside situation. G. triacanthos can easily be grown from seed, suckers or cuttings, but has a tendency to form dense thickets and to become invasive.

Habitat List

Top of page
CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

The population genetic structure and genetic diversity of G. triacanthos has been studied by Schnabel and Hamrick (1990, 1995). In nature, the most common hybrid is Gleditsia x texana, derived from crossing G. triacanthos with G. aquatica. Other thorny cultivars, such as cv. Bujotii (= 'pendula') and cv. elegantissima (= 'columnaris') are also quoted. Many thornless (and usually fruitless) patented cultivars have been derived from G. triacanthos f. inermis, for example, cvs. Imperial, Majestic, Moraine, Rubylace, Shademaster, Skyline and Sunburst. Resistance of G. triacanthos cultivars to fungal cankers is reported by Jacobi (1989), Neely and Himelik (1989), Potter and Hartmann (1993), and Calkins and Swanson (1997). McDaniel (1980) and Scanlon (1980) cover the topic of germplasm in a SERI symposium on Tree Crops for Energy Co-production on Farms, and Foroughbakhch et al. (1997) evaluated 16 clones of G. triacanthos in France.

Physiology and Phenology

G. triacanthos is a light-demanding species, colonizing bare soils by seed propagation or suckers. In mixed natural stands it behaves as a dominant tree. When coppiced, G. triacanthos resprouts abundantly and forms dense thickets. Growth is rapid (Geyer, 1989, 1993) and maturity is reached at about 12 years. The following phenological description is based on the species in its native range, taken from Blair (1990). Flowering occurs in late spring, the average date being about 10 May in the southern limit of the range and 25 June in the north. G. triacanthos leaves are nearly full grown when the flowers are produced, which is usually late enough in the year for the seed crop to escape frost damage. The species is polygamo-dioecious; flowers in axillary, dense, green racemes, ripening about mid-September in the southern portion of the range and around mid-October in the north. Soon after fruits mature they begin falling and dissemination often continues into late winter, but sometimes remaining on the tree until February (Vines, 1960; Burns and Honkala, 1990).

Reproductive Biology

G. triacanthos is a polygamous species, having male, female and bisexual flowers and giving male, female and bisexual plants following the gender of the prevailing flower. Seed propagation is reliable, as good seed crops occur nearly every year, the fruits falling gradually throughout the whole winter. G. triacanthos bear seed from about 10 until 100 years of age, with optimum production occurring between 25 and 75 years. There are about 8000 seeds/kg, and the viability is high after some pretreatment. For other seed characters refer to Bonner et al. (1992) or Singh et al. (1996).

Environmental Requirements

G. triacanthos thrives in its native range in climates ranging from cold-temperate to subtropical. In the western portion of its range, it grows in a subhumid climate, whereas in the middle and eastern portions the climate is humid. Typical annual precipitation is about 510 mm in South Dakota and Texas to >1520 mm in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The mean annual snowfall can be up to 102 cm. In the north and northeast of its range, the length of the growing season is about 150 days, increasing to >300 days in the south. G. triacanthos is tolerant of low temperatures and in the northern parts of its distribution it is hardy at -29° to -34° C, but outside of its native habitat, it has also been successfully planted in tropical climates. It is drought- and frost-tolerant (Roberts and Schnipke, 1994; Calkins and Swanson, 1998).

G. triacanthos is commonly found or planted on rich, moist alluvial soils or in soils of limestone origin (alfisols, inceptisols and mollisols), near streams or lakes. Growth is poor on gravelly or heavy clay soils and G. triacanthos often fails on shallow soils. It is fairly tolerant of acid and alkaline soils, but best development is usually on soils having a pH between 6.0 and 8.0. Preliminary tests using artificially salinized soils have determined that young saplings and seed germination are not affected by salinity (for example, 0.2% sodium chloride in soil dry weight), although whether G. triacanthos can tolerate the cumulative effects of salinity over some years is unclear (Burns and Honkala, 1990). It can behave as a very hardy and drought-resistant species when planted elsewhere, but water stress can induce early leaf abscission and interact with parasites (Smitley and Peterson, 1996, 1997). The natural range of G. triacanthos is generally below 760 m elevation, although the upper limit appears to be 2200 m.

Associations

It is commonly found on rich alluvial soils in mixed forests associated with others broadleaved trees such as oak (Quercus), ash (Fraxinus), elm (Ulmus), hickory (Carya) and maple (Acer) species, but is generally only a minor component of natural forest stands. Mesophytic species commonly associated with G. triacanthos include Acer rubrum (red maple), Diospyros virginiana (persimmon), Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum), Carya illinoensis (pecan), Acer negundo (boxelder), Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky coffee tree) and Juglans nigra (black walnut). The plump pods constitute excellent feed for animals. Although classed as a nitrogen-fixing species, G. triacanthos does not appear to have root nodules (Harlow et al., 1979; Allen and Allen, 1981).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
40 28 0 2200

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -8
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 24
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 32 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -5 15

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration26number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall5001800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page The increased popularity and planting of G. triacanthos, particularly thornless varieties, has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in numbers and species of attacking insects. In general, insect attacks are not fatal, but they do weaken the tree and slow growth. The mimosa webworm (Homadaula anisocentra) is a severe and widely distributed defoliator (Miller and Hart, 1987; Bastian and Hart, 1990, 1991). Heavy infestations of the spider mite Eotetranychus multidigituli can occur in hot dry weather and severely defoliate trees. Other important defoliators include the whitemarked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma), the honey-locust plant bug (Diaphnocoris chlorionis), the walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata) and the leaf hopper Empoasca pergandei. The gall midge pest Dasineura gleditchiae has recently been studied in California, USA (Thompson et al., 1998), Spain (Estal et al., 1998), Serbia (Simovich-Tosic and Skuhrava, 1995) and Hungary. The twig girdler, Oncideres cingulata, prunes small branches and can inflict severe injury on nursery seedlings. Heavy infestations can also severely damage large trees; the larvae of Amblycerus robiniae, a bruchid weevil, feed on G. triacanthos seed, and the female periodical cicada (Magicicada septendecim) can damage G. triacanthos, especially young transplanted trees, by depositing eggs in the twigs (Blair, 1990). G. triacanthos does not suffer from any serious diseases, though stem cankers caused by Nectria cinnabarina (Bedker and Blanchette, 1983, 1984) and Thyronectria austro-americana (Jacobi, 1989; Neely and Himelik, 1989; Jacobi, 1992; Potter and Hartmann, 1993) are generally associated with wounds or at the bases of dying branches. Damage to young honey-locust is caused by rabbits gnawing the bark and by livestock and white-tailed deer browsing.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page G. triacanthos is probably spread along water courses during periods of flooding. The plump pods constitute excellent feed for animals, and it is assumed that both livestock and wild animals are able to spread seed widely. Since the outbreak of Dutch elm disease, the artificial spread and planting of G. triacanthos has increased to substitute the role of elms (Ulmus spp.) as roadside trees, in agroforestry and especially as a fodder tree (Gold and Hanover, 1993; Papanastasis, 1994; Foroughbakhch et al., 1995a; Wilson, 1996; Ainalis and Tsiouvaras, 1998; Hauad et al., 1998). The thornless variety G. triacanthos f. inermis is now generally preferred for plantation use and many of the cultivars selected for roadside plantations are derived from this variety and are both thornless and fruitless, or they bear only a small amount of fruit.

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production None
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Impact

Top of page No detailed studies of the economic impacts of G. triacanthos have been reported.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

Top of page G. triacanthos has excellent characteristics for using as windbreaks and hedges on plains and rangelands. When trimmed, it resprouts strongly producing thick, thorny and impassable hedges. As a fast growing species with an attractive crown, it is also suitable for ornamental planting. The high levels of adaptation to extreme climatic conditions, rapid growth and early fruit production make G. triacanthos suitable for use in agrosilvopastural systems producing cattle forage, particularly in semiarid regions. It allows sustained and diverse forage production during periods of fodder scarcity, although thornless cultivars are recommended. When pods are still greenish and immature, they contain a sweetish substance which makes them palatable to cattle; but after maturation they become too hard and bitter to be eaten (Foroughbakhch et al., 1995; Ainalis and Tsiouvaras, 1998; Hauad et al., 1998).

The sapwood is generally wide and yellowish in contrast to the reddish-brown heartwood, providing an attractive grain. The wood is dense, very heavy (700-800 kg/m³), very hard, strong in bending, stiff, resistant to shock and is durable when in contact with the soil. Although not particularly valued, it is used locally as a timber for pallets, crating and general construction, also for fence posts and as a fuelwood.

Indigenous peoples of North America formerly used the thorns for many purposes. Medicinally, it is reported to be anodyne, mydriatic, narcotic and experimentally oxytocic (Duke, 1983). The pods are a folk remedy for dyspepsia and measles among the Cherokee Indians. A tea made from the bark is used to treat whooping cough. Delaware Indians used the bark for blood disorders and coughs, the Fox Indians for colds, fevers, measles and smallpox. A potable or energy alcohol can be made by fermenting the pulp, and the seeds have been roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Uses List

Top of page

Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Shade and shelter
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Materials

  • Gum/resin
  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Rubber/latex
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

Top of page

Charcoal

Furniture

Railway sleepers

Roundwood

  • Posts

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • For heavy construction
  • For light construction

Prevention and Control

Top of page G. triacanthos is easily injured by fire due to its thin bark, and appears to be excluded from prairies or rangelands by frequent fire. Damage to trees by poor air quality has been recorded in southeast Texas, USA. It has been reported to be highly resistant to ice damage and average in resistance to flooding in the USA (Burns and Honkala, 1990). G. triacanthos is susceptible to triclopyr and to a mixture of picloram and 2,4,-D which are used to control weedy trees (Melichar et al., 1986). Also, three insects are proposed as biological control agents by USDA (2003), Monarthrum mali (apple wood stainer), Macropsis fumipennis (honey locust leafhopper) and Micrutalus calva (treehopper).

References

Top of page

Ainalis AB; Tsiouvaras CN, 1998. Forage production of woody fodder species and herbaceous vegetation in a silvopastoral system in northern Greece. Agroforestry Systems, 42(1):1-11; 22 ref.

Akers RC; Herms DA; Nielsen DG, 1986. Emergence and adult biology of Agrilus difficilis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), a pest of honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos. Great Lakes Entomologist, 19(1):27-30

Allen ON; Allen EK, 1981. The Leguminosae. A source book of characteristics, uses and nodulation. London, UK: MacMillan Publishers Ltd.

Ansin OE; Marlats RM, 1997. Changes in the populations of a silvipastoral system after cover of a naturalized mountain with different densities of honey locust trees (Gleditsia triacanthos L.) in the Buenos Aires pampa. Investigación Agraria, Sistemas y Recursos Forestales, 6(1/2):79-92; 29 ref.

Basbaa AK; Geslot A; Neville P; Vogt G, 1995. In vitro propagation of Gleditsia triacanthos L.. II. Subcultures of primary explants originated from seedlings [Multiplication végétative in vitro de Gleditsia triacanthos L.. II. Subcultures d'explants primaires issus de jeunes plants.]. Acta Botanica Gallica, 142(3):169-181.

Bastian RA; Hart ER, 1990. Honeylocust clonal effects on developmental biology of mimosa webworm (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 83(2):533-538

Bastian RA; Hart ER, 1991. Temperature effects on developmental parameters of the mimosa webworm (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae). Environmental Entomology, 20(4):1141-1148

Bedker PJ; Blanchette RA, 1983. Development of cankers caused by Nectria cinnabarina on honey locusts after root pruning. Plant Disease, 67(9):1010-1013

Bedker PJ; Blanchette RA, 1984. Identification and control of cankers caused by Nectria cinnabarina of honey locust. Journal of Arboriculture, 10(2):33-39

Benedetti R S; Cáceres G V; Delard R C; González O M, 2000. Monografía de árbol de las tres espinas Gleditsia triacanthos (Monograph of the honeylocust: Gleditsia triacanthos). Santiago, Chile: Instituto Forestal, 31 pp.

Blair RM, 1990. Gleditsia triancanthos L. In: Burns RM, Honkala BH, eds., Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654. Washington DC, USA: USDA Forest Service. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/gleditsia/triacanthos.htm.

Bonello P; Bellizzi M; Hoitink HAJ, 2003. Update on honeylocust knot. Special Circular - Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, No.189:69-72; 4 ref.

Bonner FT; Hooda MS; Singh DP, 1992. Moisture determination on seeds of honeylocust and mimosa. Tree Planters' Notes, 43(3):72-75; 5 ref.

Briggs JM; Gibson DJ, 1992. Effect of fire on tree spatial patterns in a tallgrass prairie landscape. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 119(3):300-307; 53 ref.

Briones VOL, 1988. A new record for Gleditsia (Leguminosae) in Mexico. [Nuevo registro para Mexico de Gleditsia (Leguminosae).] Boletin de la Sociedad Botanica de Mexico, 48:143-144.

Burnett CD; Gilluly D, 1988. Pollarding for multiple benefits. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry, 5(2):148-152; 30 ref.

Burns RM; Honkala BH, 1990. Silvics of North America: 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654. Washington DC, USA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Also available on the Internet (individual authors noted) at: < target="_blank">http://willow.ncfes.umn.edu/fth_pub.htm>

Burton PJ; Bazzaz FA, 1991. Tree seedling emergence on interactive temperature and moisture gradients and in patches of old-field vegetation. American Journal of Botany, 78(1):131-149; 36 ref.

Calkins JB; Swanson BT, 1997. Susceptiblity of `Skyline' honeylocust to cankers caused by Nectria cinnabarina influenced by nursery field management system. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 15(1): 6-11.

Calkins JB; Swanson BT, 1998. Plant cold acclimation, hardiness, and winter injury in response to bare soil and groundcover-based nursery field management systems. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 16(2):82-89; 37 ref.

Csurhes SM; Kriticos D, 1994. Gleditsia triacanthos L. (Caesalpiniaceae), another thorny, exotic fodder tree gone wild. Plant Protection Quarterly, 9(3):101-105

Diakonoff A, 1992. Tortricidae from Madagascar. Part 2. Olethreutinae, 7. Annales de la Societe Entomologique de France, 28(1):37-71

Duke JA, 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. Unpublished. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA: Centre for New Crops and Plant Products. World Wide Web page at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/Indices/index_ab.html.

Estal Pdel; Soria S; Vinuela E, 1998. Note on the presence of Dasineura gleditchiae (Osten Sacken) on honey locust in Spain. Boleti^acute~n de Sanidad Vegetal, Plagas, 24(2):225-230; 13 ref.

Foroughbakhch R; Hauad LA; Badii MH; Dupraz C, 1995. Alimentary value of Gleditsia triacanthos seeds. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Research Reports, 13:54-57; 12 ref.

Foroughbakhch R; Hauad LA; Dupraz C; Badii MH, 1997. Multipurpose and germplasm collection of Gleditsia triacanthos L. Phyton (Buenos Aires), 61(1/2): 61-69.

Foroughbakhch R; Hauad LA; Dupraz C; Cordesse R; Badii MH, 1995. Pod yield of 16 accessions of Gleditsia triacanthos. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Research Reports, 13: 58-59; 5 ref.

Fowells HA, 1965. Silvics of the forest trees of the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 271. Washington DC, USA: USDA, Forest Service.

Geyer WA, 1993. Influence of environmental factors on woody biomass productivity in the central Great Plains, U.S.A. Biomass and Bioenergy, 4(5):333-337; 13 ref.

Geyer WA; McCaskey TA, 1989. Biomass yield potential of short-rotation hardwoods in the Great Plains. In: Southern Biomass Conference, Auburn University, Alabama, 26-28 July 1988. Biomass, 20(3-4):167-175; 10 ref.

Ghent AW, 1995. A possible mode of induction of pinnateness in honey locust, as implied by consistent gradients of 1-, mixed-, and 2-pinnate leaves. American Midland Naturalist, 133(2):213-228; 28 ref.

Gold MA; Hanover JW, 1993. Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos), a multipurpose tree for the temperate zone. International Tree Crops Journal, 7(4):189-207; 53 ref.

Harlow WM; Harlow ES; White FM, 1979. Texbook of Dendrology. Mc Graw Hill, Book Co.

Hauad LA; Foroghbakhch R; Badii MH; Dupraz C, 1998. Digestibility of Gleditsia triacanthos L. pods. Phyton (Buenos Aires), 62(1-2):87-93.

Hyche LL, 1997. Some stinging caterpillars on shade and ornamental trees. Highlights of Agricultural Research - Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, 44(3):8-10.

ILDIS, 2003. International Legume Database & Information Service. http://www.ildis.org/LegumeWeb/.

Isely D, 1975. Legumes of the United States. Volume 2. Memoirs of the New York Botanic Gardens, 25(2):1-228.

Jacobi WR, 1989. Resistance of honeylocust cultivars to Thyronectria austro-americana. Plant Disease, 73(10):805-807

Jacobi WR, 1992. Seasonal effects on wound susceptibility and canker expansion in honeylocusts inoculated with Thyronectria austro-americana. Journal of Arboriculture, 18(6):288-293; 20 ref.

Jermy T; Szentesi A; Anton KW, 2002. Megabruchidus tonkineus (Pic, 1904) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) first found in Hungary. Folia Entomologica Hungarica, 63:49-51.

Li HL, 1996. Shade and ornamental trees: their origins and history. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; University of Pennsylvania Press.

Macdonald B, 1986. Practical woody plant propagation for nursery growers, volume I. 1986, xiv + 669 pp.; ref. at ends of chapters, many pl., many fig.

McDaniel JC, 1980. A plant breeder looks at some American tree crops: Morus, Gleditsia, and Diospyros. In: Tree crops for energy co-production on farms. Nov. 12-14, 1980. SERVCP-622-1086:113-118.

Melichar MW; Geyer WA; Ritty PM, 1986. Hardwood tree control with herbicide applications. Proceedings, 40th annual meeting of the Northeastern Weed Science Society, 210-211

Miller FD Jr; Hart ER, 1987. Overwintering survivorship of pupae of the mimosa webworm, Homadaula anisocentra (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), in an urban landscape. Ecological Entomology, 12(1):41-50

National Academy of Sciences, 1979. Tropical legumes: resources for the future. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.

Neely D, 1988. Wound closure rates on trees. Journal of Arboriculture, 14(10):250-254; 10 ref.

Neely D; Himelick EB, 1989. Susceptibility of honeylocust cultivars to Thyronectria canker. Journal of Arboriculture, 15(8):189-191

Nelson GH, 1979. A new species of Actenodes from the United States with a key to the species (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Coleopterists Bulletin, 33(1):87-91

Papanastasis V, 1994. Selection and utilization of cultivated fodder trees and shrubs in Mediterranean extensive livestock production systems. In: Zervas NP, Hatziminaoglou J, eds, The optimal exploitation of marginal Mediterranean areas by extensive ruminant production systems. Proceedings of an international symposium organized by HSAP and EAAP and sponsored by EU(DGVI), FAO and CIHEAM, Thessaloniki, Greece, 18-20 June, 1994. EAAP Publication No. 83: 251-261.

Paramjeet Singh; Ombir Singh; Veena Chandra, 1996. Estimating seed quality in hard seeded leguminous trees by accelerated aging and leachate conductivity. Indian Forester, 122(5):415-418; 7 ref.

Pfaffenberger GS, 1979. Comparative description and bionomics of the first and final larval stages of Amblycerus acapulcensis Kingsolver and A. robinip (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Coleopterists Bulletin, 33(2):229-238

Potter DA; Hartmann JR, 1993. Susceptibility of honeylocust cultivars to Thyronectria austro-americana and response of Agrilus borers and bagworms to infected and non-infected trees. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 11(4):176-181; 25 ref.

Proffer TJ, 1988. Xylaria root rot of urban trees caused by Xylaria polymorpha. Plant Disease, 72(1):79

Ripka G, 1996. Damage to honey locust trees by Dasineura gleditchiae (Osten Sacken) (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). No^umlaut~ve^acute~nyve^acute~delem, 32(10):529-532; 10 ref.

Roberts BR; Schnipke VM, 1994. The relative water demand of five urban tree species. Journal of Arboriculture, 20(3):156-159; 10 ref.

Rossa FR la; Pagnone TC; Martinez AN; Bonivardo SL, 1993. Evidence and description of the sexual forms of Aphis craccivora Koch (Homoptera: Aphididae) in Argentina. Revista de la Sociedad Entomologica Argentina, 52(1-4):13-16

Ruskin FR, 1983. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production. Volume 2. 1983, vii + 92 pp.; 36 pl. BOSTID Report No. 40. Washington DC, USA: National Academy Press. 6 pp. ref.

Sainty G, 1995. Streambank weeds. Better planning for better weed management. Proceedings of the 8th biennial noxious weeds conference, Goulburn, NSW, Australia, 19-21 September 1995: volume 1., 85-86; [Agdex 640].

Scanlon DH II, 1980. A case study of honeylocust in the Tennessee Valley Region. In: Tree crops for energy co-production on farms. Nov. 12-14, 1980. SERVCP-622-1086:21-23.

Schnabel A; Hamrick JL, 1990. Organization of genetic diversity within and among populations of Gleditsia triacanthos (Leguminosae). American Journal of Botany, 77(8):1060-1069; 49 ref.

Schnabel A; Hamrick JL, 1995. Understanding the population genetic structure of Gleditsia triacanthos L.: the scale and pattern of pollen gene flow. Evolution, 49(5):921-931; 66 ref.

Schnabel A; Nason JD; Hamrick JL, 1998. Understanding the population genetic structure of Gleditsia triacanthos L.: seed dispersal and variation in female reproductive success. Molecular Ecology, 7(7):819-832; 2 ref.

Schnabel A; Wendel JF, 1998. Cladistic biogeography of Gleditsia (Leguminosae) based on NDHF and RPL16 chloroplast gene sequences. American Journal of Botany, 85(12):1753-1765; 87 ref.

Schopmeyer CS, 1974. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. USDA Agriculture Handbook, 450. Washington DC, USA: USDA.

Simova-Tosic D; Skuhravß M, 1995. The occurrence and biology of Dasineura gleditchiae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) in Serbia. Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae, 59(1/2):121-126.

Singh DP; Hooda MS; Bonner FT, 1991. An evaluation of scarification methods for seeds of two leguminous trees. New Forests, 5(2):139-145; 13 ref.

Smitley DR; Peterson NC, 1996. Interactions of water stress, honeylocust spider mites (Acari: Tetranychidae), early leaf abscission, and growth of Gleditsia triacanthos. Journal of Economic Entomology, 89(6):1577-1581; 19 ref.

Smitley DR; Peterson NC, 1997. Honeylocust plant bug and leafhopper: response to water stress and cultivar. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 15(3):146-148; 9 ref.

Smitley DR; Rao RP; Roden DB, 1993. Role of tree trunks, foliage type, and canopy size in host selection by Lymantria dispar (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae). Environmental Entomology, 22(1):134-140

Stilinovic S; Grbic M, 1988. Effect of various presowing treatments on the germination of some woody ornamental seeds. Acta Horticulturae, No. 226, vol. I, 239-245; International symposium on propagation of ornamental plants, Geisenheim, German Federal Republic, 23-29 Aug. 1987; 10 ref.

Streets RJ, 1962. Exotic forest trees in the British Commonwealth. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Thompson PB; Parrella MP; Murphy BC; Flint ML, 1998. Life history and description of Dasineura gleditchiae (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) in California. Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 74(2):85-98; 25 ref.

USDA, 2002. Biological Control Agents of honeylocust. Invasive and Exotic Species of North America. USA: USDA APHIS PPQ. http://www.invasive.org/browse/weedcontrol.cfm?sub=3289.

Vines RA, 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

von Carlowitz PG, 1991. Multipurpose Trees and Shrubs - Sources of Seeds and Inoculants. Nairobi, Kenya: ICRAF.

Watson GW, 1994. Root growth response to fertilizers. Journal of Arboriculture, 20(1):4-8; 8 ref.

Webb DB; Wood PJ; Smith JP; Henman GS, 1984. A guide to species selection for tropical and sub-tropical plantations. Tropical Forestry Papers, No. 15. Oxford, UK: Commonwealth Forestry Institute, University of Oxford.

Wilson A, 1996. Silvopastoral agroforestry using honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos L.). WANATCA Yearbook, 20: 58-66.

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map