Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Robinia pseudoacacia
(black locust)

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Datasheet

Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Robinia pseudoacacia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • black locust
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • R. pseudoacacia is adaptable to environmental extremes such as drought, air pollutants and high light intensities (Hanover and Mebrah...

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Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
R. pseudoacacia tree.
TitleTree
CaptionR. pseudoacacia tree.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
R. pseudoacacia tree.
TreeR. pseudoacacia tree.©K.M. Siddiqui
R. pseudoacacia tree, 9 m high, d.b.h. 18 cm, about 15-years-old. Location: roadside in Assisi (Perugia), Umbria, Italy.
TitleWinter aspect
CaptionR. pseudoacacia tree, 9 m high, d.b.h. 18 cm, about 15-years-old. Location: roadside in Assisi (Perugia), Umbria, Italy.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
R. pseudoacacia tree, 9 m high, d.b.h. 18 cm, about 15-years-old. Location: roadside in Assisi (Perugia), Umbria, Italy.
Winter aspectR. pseudoacacia tree, 9 m high, d.b.h. 18 cm, about 15-years-old. Location: roadside in Assisi (Perugia), Umbria, Italy.Antonio Brunori
R. pseudoacacia trees in Pakistan.
TitleYoung trees
CaptionR. pseudoacacia trees in Pakistan.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
R. pseudoacacia trees in Pakistan.
Young treesR. pseudoacacia trees in Pakistan.©K.M. Siddiqui
Root sprouts issuing from 25-year-old adult field-edge robinia tree. Adult tree height 8 m, d.b.h. 25 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.
TitleTrees from root sprouts
CaptionRoot sprouts issuing from 25-year-old adult field-edge robinia tree. Adult tree height 8 m, d.b.h. 25 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
Root sprouts issuing from 25-year-old adult field-edge robinia tree. Adult tree height 8 m, d.b.h. 25 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.
Trees from root sproutsRoot sprouts issuing from 25-year-old adult field-edge robinia tree. Adult tree height 8 m, d.b.h. 25 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.Antonio Brunori
Trees issuing from coppice stumps, planted along a road embankment. Tree age approx. 10 years, height 7 m, d.b.h. 12 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.
TitleCoppice trees of robinia
CaptionTrees issuing from coppice stumps, planted along a road embankment. Tree age approx. 10 years, height 7 m, d.b.h. 12 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
Trees issuing from coppice stumps, planted along a road embankment. Tree age approx. 10 years, height 7 m, d.b.h. 12 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.
Coppice trees of robiniaTrees issuing from coppice stumps, planted along a road embankment. Tree age approx. 10 years, height 7 m, d.b.h. 12 cm. Location: Perugia, central Italy.Antonio Brunori
A medium-sized tree in full bloom. Location: Haute Provence, southern France.
TitleAdult tree in summer
CaptionA medium-sized tree in full bloom. Location: Haute Provence, southern France.
CopyrightColin Hughes/Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
A medium-sized tree in full bloom. Location: Haute Provence, southern France.
Adult tree in summerA medium-sized tree in full bloom. Location: Haute Provence, southern France.Colin Hughes/Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Bark of adult tree.
TitleBark of adult tree
CaptionBark of adult tree.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
Bark of adult tree.
Bark of adult treeBark of adult tree.Antonio Brunori
Flowers and leaflets.
TitleFlowers and leaflets
CaptionFlowers and leaflets.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
Flowers and leaflets.
Flowers and leafletsFlowers and leaflets.Antonio Brunori
R. pseudoacacia branch with seed pods.
TitleBranch with pods
CaptionR. pseudoacacia branch with seed pods.
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
R. pseudoacacia branch with seed pods.
Branch with podsR. pseudoacacia branch with seed pods.©K.M. Siddiqui
Ripe seed pods; foliage also visible.
TitlePods and foliage
CaptionRipe seed pods; foliage also visible.
CopyrightColin Hughes/Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Ripe seed pods; foliage also visible.
Pods and foliageRipe seed pods; foliage also visible.Colin Hughes/Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Seed pods of R. pseudoacacia.
TitleSeed pods
CaptionSeed pods of R. pseudoacacia.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
Seed pods of R. pseudoacacia.
Seed podsSeed pods of R. pseudoacacia.Antonio Brunori
R. pseudoacacia, ripe seed pods.
TitleFruits
CaptionR. pseudoacacia, ripe seed pods.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
R. pseudoacacia, ripe seed pods.
FruitsR. pseudoacacia, ripe seed pods.Antonio Brunori
Seeds.
TitleSeeds
CaptionSeeds.
CopyrightAntonio Brunori
Seeds.
SeedsSeeds.Antonio Brunori

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Robinia pseudoacacia L.

Preferred Common Name

  • black locust

Variety

  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. amorphifolia
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. aurea
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. bullata
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. coluteoides
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. crispa
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. dissecta
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. inermis
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. linearis
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. lutea
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. microphylla
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. monophylla
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. pendula
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. piramidalis
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. rectissima
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. rozynskyana
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. semperflorens
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. stricta
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. tortuosa
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. ulriciana
  • Robinia pseudoacacia var. umbraculifera

Other Scientific Names

  • Robinia pringlei

International Common Names

  • English: black locust tree; Chinese scholar tree; common robinia; false acacia; locust tree; robinia; ship-mast locust; yellow locust
  • Spanish: acacia blanca; acacia falsa; falsa acacia; robinia
  • French: acacia des jardiniers; faux-acacia; robinier; robinier faux-acacia

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: acacia-salsa
  • China: Chinese scolartree
  • Germany: Falsche Akazie; Gemeine Robinie; Schoterndorn
  • Hungary: akactermesztes
  • India: kikar; robinia kikar
  • Italy: acacia; cascia; falsa acacia; robinia
  • Netherlands: robinia; schotdoorn
  • Pakistan: kikar; robinia kikar
  • Sweden: vanlig robinia

EPPO code

  • ROBPS (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Trade name

  • robinia

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page R. pseudoacacia is adaptable to environmental extremes such as drought, air pollutants and high light intensities (Hanover and Mebrahtu, 1991). It propagates easily by seed, coppice and root suckers and is an aggressive, thorny pioneer species. In its native range, R. pseudoacacia is a pioneer species, dominating in the early stages of a succession but then being taken over by other species as it is intolerant of shade. R. pseudoacacia has become established in the wild on a wide variety of disturbed sites such as old fields or other cleared areas and the greatest problems may be in continental Europe. It is a declared invader (category 2) in South Africa (Henderson, 2001) and is listed in the California exotic pest plant list (CE-PPC, 1999). However, respondents in a Canadian survey (White et al, 1993) felt that R. pseudoacacia was not a problem species in Canada, or regarded it as a localized, stable invasive with limited impact. It is regarded as potentially problematic in New Zealand where it has naturalized around Auckland along forest edges (Owen, 1996).

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Robinia
  •                                     Species: Robinia pseudoacacia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The genus Robinia has recently been comprehensively investigated by Peabody (1984) and Isely and Peabody (1984), who recognized four different species of Robinia (R. pseudoacacia, R. neomexicana, R. hispida and R. viscosa), in great contrast to traditional treatments in which 20 or more species have been recognized.

Many cultivars are described: they vary in crown and stem form, growth rate, growth habit (upright vs. prostrate), leaf shape, thorniness, flowering characteristics and phenology.

The generic name Robinia is in honor of Jean Robin, herbalist of king Henry IV of France, who introduced this species in Europe sometime after 1601.

Description

Top of page R. pseudoacacia is a medium-sized tree, generally 12-18 m tall and 30-76 cm in stem diameter, with an open, irregular crown. On better sites it may reach 30 m tall and 122 cm or more in diameter. It is generally a crooked tree and often has a tendency to fork. The bole of open-grown trees is usually short and separates at 3 to 5 m above the ground into several stout branches, but in stands on good sites the bole is often clear and straight (Harlow et al., 1979; Harrar et al., 1962). R. pseudoacacia usually produces a shallow and wide-spreading root system that is excellent for soil binding but is also capable of producing deep roots (5-7 m deep). Radial root spread is about 1 to 1.5 times tree height (Cutler, 1978). The smooth bark becomes reddish-brown and deeply furrowed with age, becoming 4 cm thick. It has sharp spines or thorns at the nodes of young branches and twigs that cause difficulties when handling seedlings, harvesting saplings and mature trees, and when feeding animals. The leaves are alternate, deciduous, compound and imparipinnate, 20-45 cm long and consist of 7-19 small, oval, alternate leaflets, 3.8-5 cm long, 1.2-1.8 cm wide, broadest near the middle to uniformly wide, dull dark green in colour. The fragrant, whitish flowers, less than 20 mm long, are borne in lax to pendent inflorescences (racemes), with perfect flowers originating in the axils of current year leaves. The fruit is a small, flattened, oblong pod with a narrow wing along the ventral margin, containing 4-8 hard-coated seeds

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

Top of page R. pseudoacacia is native to eastern North America (Westbrooks, 1998). However, the exact extent of the native range is not accurately known (Huntley, 1990), but has an eastern range centred on the Appalachian Mountains ranging from central Pennsylvania and southern Ohio, south to northeastern Alabama, northern Georgia, and northwest South Carolina. The western section of the native range includes parts of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma and populations also exist in Indiana and Kentucky (Huntley, 1990)

Distribution Table

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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, 2002
BhutanPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
ChinaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
-HenanPresentIntroduced Planted
-JiangsuPresentIntroduced Planted
-JiangxiPresentIntroduced Planted
-ShaanxiPresentIntroduced Planted
-ShandongPresentIntroduced Planted
IndiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroduced Planted
-Indian PunjabPresentIntroduced Planted
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroduced Planted
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroduced Planted
IndonesiaPresentIntroduced Planted
-JavaPresentIntroduced Planted
IranPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
IraqPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
IsraelPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995
JapanPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
JordanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
Korea, DPRPresentIntroduced Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroduced Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MyanmarPresentIntroduced Planted
NepalPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
PakistanPresentIntroduced Planted Hussain , 2002
TurkeyPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995

Africa

BotswanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Buss , 2002
KenyaPresentIntroduced Planted
NamibiaPresentIntroduced Invasive World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
RéunionPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Henderson , 2001
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced Planted

North America

CanadaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Cronk and Fuller , 1995
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive White and et al. , 1993
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted White and et al. , 1993
-OntarioPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted White and et al. , 1993
MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentNative Natural
-AlaskaPresentIntroduced
-ArkansasPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-GeorgiaPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced Natural
-IndianaPresentNative Natural
-KentuckyPresentNative Natural Bryant et al., 1980
-MichiganPresentIntroduced Planted
-MissouriPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-New HampshirePresentNativePlanted, Natural
-North CarolinaPresentNative Natural
-OhioPresentNative Natural
-OklahomaPresentNative Natural
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-South CarolinaPresentNative Natural
-TennesseePresentNative Natural
-VirginiaPresentNative Natural
-West VirginiaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalCronk and Fuller , 1995

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Zalba , 1995
ChilePresentIntroduced

Europe

AlbaniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
AustriaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
BelarusPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
BelgiumPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
BulgariaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
CroatiaPresentIntroduced Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
CyprusPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995
Czech RepublicPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentIntroduced Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
FrancePresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995
-CorsicaPresentILDIS, 2002
GermanyPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Cronk and Fuller , 1995
GreecePresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995
HungaryPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995; Redei, 1997
ItalyPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
-SardiniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
LatviaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
LithuaniaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MaltaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
NetherlandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995
PolandPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
RomaniaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002
Russian FederationPresentIntroduced Planted
-Central RussiaPresentIntroduced Planted
-Russia (Europe)PresentIntroduced Planted
-Southern RussiaPresentIntroduced Planted
SerbiaPresentIntroduced Planted
SpainPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
SwitzerlandPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995
UKPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted
UkrainePresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Yugoslavia (former)PresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2002

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Cronk and Fuller , 1995
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced Planted
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Planted
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller , 1995; Owen , 1996

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page R. pseudoacacia has been widely introduced to other parts of North America, possibly in pre-history, thus blurring the actual limits to its native range. It is known to have been introduced to tidewater Virginia by native Americans for bow production, and then introduced widely by colonists in New England and Canada as a ship building timber and later as an ornamental species (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). It was introduced in Europe in the early 1600s and has since become widely naturalized in many countries. A very old tree in a park in central Paris, France, is considered to be the original tree introduced by Jean Robin, planted in 1604, and is still bearing fruit 400 years later (Pasiecznik N, CAB International, personal communication, 2004). Although many forest managers today consider this tree a weed species and a strong competitor against more desirable species, it has been widely planted in some central European countries where it is an important timber species. It is one of the most important stand-forming tree species in Hungary, covering approximately 20% of the forested land and providing 25% of the country's annual timber cut (Redei, 1997). R. pseudoacacia has also been introduced extensively to countries in Africa, Australasia and Asia for control of soil erosion, revegetating denuded hills, land reclamation, rehabilitation of eroded tracts in temperate and subtropical regions, windbreaks, nurse crops, honey production and as an ornamental plant.

Risk of Introduction

Top of page The popularity of R. pseudoacacia as an ornamental, forestry, shelter and land reclamation species have ensured that it has been widely introduced. At the same time, it has become naturalized or invasive across many regions, so there is a risk that it will become naturalized or invasive where conditions are suitable. Some countries where it is naturalized view it as a potential problem and are monitoring for signs of invasiveness.

Habitat

Top of page The native range of range of R. pseudoacacia includes cool temperate moist forest, warm temperate montane moist forest, warm temperate montane wet forest, and warm temperate moist forest life zones (Sawyer and Lindsey, 1964). R. pseudoacacia invades disturbed woodlands and urban and rural landscapes throughout North America (Westbrooks, 1998), riparian areas and canyons in California (CE-PPC, 1999), also disturbed or cleared sites, and frequently becomes established on burned-over land (Converse, 1984). It also agressively invades dry prairies, sand prairies and savannas (Converse, 1984). In South Africa, R. pseudoacacia invades riverbanks and roadsides (Henderson, 2001). In Europe, it is commonly seen as a roadside tree, and forming thorny, stands from root suckers along roads, rivers and field margins.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) 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)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

In R. pseudoacacia, natural variation in numerous traits has been observed (Surles et al., 1989) and many cultivars are described, varying in crown and stem form, growth rate, growth habit (upright vs. prostrate), leaf shape, thorniness, flowering characteristics and phenology. Most of the diversity resides within seed sources with low geographic variation. Efforts in crossbreeding to improve the tree for growth rate, resistance to boring insects, stem form, thornlessness, or other traits are reported by Hanover (1990), for the USA by Bongarten (1992), for Hungary by Keresztesi (1983) and for Korea by Hyun and Kim (1963) and Kim and Hwang (1982). Clonal selection, early pruning, and close spacing are effective means of producing straight-stemmed R. pseudoacacia in plantations, especially in eastern Europe. In Hungary, a large array of tall clones are in commercial use (Keresztesi, 1983) based on seeds from trees of 'shipmast locust' originating from Long Island, New York, USA. Despite its widespread planting, efforts to genetically improve planting stock have been limited, and the magnitude and patterning of natural variation in R. pseudoacacia has only been slightly investigated. Rehder (1940) lists more than two dozen horticultural varieties selected for flower, leaf and form characteristics, the majority of which originated in Europe. Since then, many new varieties have been registered, for example in Hungary alone, the National Agricultural Council for Variety Testing has registered 21 new cultivars (Gras, 1991).

Physiology and Phenology

R. pseudoacacia flowers at a relatively early age, often around 3 years of age. The fruit ripens during September and October, opens on the tree, and seeds are dispersed from September to April (Olson, 1974) and can persist in the soil for many years. Seed crops occur every 1-2 years, with full seed production beginning from about age 6 and continuing to age 60, is highest when trees are 15-40 years old, but fruiting has also been observed in a single tree 400 years old (Pasiecznik N, CAB International, personal communication, 2004). R. pseudoacacia flowers at a relatively early age (3 years). appear after leaf emergence in May or June and are pollinated by insects, primarily bees.R. pseudoacacia usually produces a shallow and wide-spreading root system that is excellent for soil binding but is also capable of producing deep roots (5-7 m deep) and radial root spread is about 1 to 1.5 times tree height (Cutler, 1978).

Reproductive Biology

R. pseudoacacia yields 7-15 kg of seeds per 45 kg of fruit, with high number of seeds, 35,000-77,000 seeds/kg (Olson, 1974; Roach, 1965). Dry seeds can be stored and retain their viability for as long as 10 years if placed in closed containers at 0-5°C. Trees sprouts readily from both stump and roots, especially after being cut or damaged, and also graft easily. Although seedlings are produced, root suckers are most prevalent in natural reproduction. They can be propagated with difficulty from hardwood cuttings (15-30 cm long and 1-2 cm diameter) collected in winter or early spring. Propagation from root cuttings is suitable for reproduction of superior individuals or cultivars. Treatment with the rooting hormone IAA (indole acetic acid) improves rooting. In nursery culture, R. pseudoacacia is either direct seeded or root sections (5-8 cm long) are planted. Clonal propagation of mature R. pseudoacacia trees using tissue culture has been reported by Davis and Keathley (1987), and has been mass propagated by this method.

Environmental Requirements

The native range of R. pseudoacacia is classified as humid, with two local areas of superhumid climate, though it has been successfully introduced into many parts of the world where the climatic conditions are quite different, and is grown in temperate and subtropical regions in Europe, New Zealand, Argentina, India, China and Korea. It has even been grown at higher, cooler altitudes in the tropics (for example, in Java). Trees tolerate temperatures from 40°C to -12°C, and it has been reported to withstand temperatures as low as -35°C without damage. Although black locust is moderately frost hardy in the southern and central plains of the USA, cold weather damage has occurred in the colder parts of its range (Roach, 1965). In Hungary (Varga, 1971) and in Italy (Grasso, 1971) frost damage is the only environmental damage reported. However, it shows resistance to extremely cold winter temperatures, and this has been linked to a seasonal increase in the fatty acid content of the bark (Smith, 1992). The preferred mean annual rainfall range is 700-2000 mm. R. pseudoacacia does not withstand drought, and is noted to only tolerate dry seasons not exceeding 4 months, and suffered 100% mortality in a field trial in semi-arid southern Spain (Hyde et al., 1990).

It is found on a variety of soils with pH ranging from 4.6 to 8.2, but grows best on moist, rich, loamy soils, those of limestone origin and soils without pronounced subsoil development (Roach, 1965). It is very sensitive to poorly drained or compact plastic soils. Excessively dry sites are also poor for the species. Trees do not tolerate water-logging. The most common orders of soil within its native range are Inceptisols, Ultisols and Alfisols, and the most common soil great groups are Hapludults, Paleudults, Dystrochrepts and Eutrochrepts (US-Geological-Survey, 1970). R. pseudoacacia has become established on a wide variety of disturbed sites such as old fields or other cleared areas. Although R. pseudoacacia has done well in mine spoil banks in central USA, it has failed consistently when planted on badly eroded, compacted, clayey soils of the southern Appalachian Region (Hepting, 1971). R. pseudoacacia can also tolerate saline and infertile soils, and is found at altitudes up to 2500 m. Simulated acid rain (pH2) caused serious damage to leaves and arrested growth of Robinia seedlings (Neufeld et al., 1985). Hanover (1989) noted that black locust was not very much affected by pollution.

Associations

It occurs on upland sites in hardwood forests with black oak, red oak, chestnut oak, pignut hickory, yellow poplar, maple, and with ash along streams. In the northern part of its range at 800 m altitude, it occurs with Picea rubra and Acer saccharum (Keresztezi, 1988b). R. pseudoacacia has root nodules associated with Rhizobium bacteria. R. pseudoacacia is fairly specific in its Rhizobium requirements. Although it will form nodules with a variety of exotic strains, for effective nitrogen-fixation, strains from native trees work best. Newly introduced trees require inoculation; inoculum may be obtained from the soil of R. pseudoacacia stands. The fine roots are also colonized by both endo- and ectomycorrhizae. These associations can be beneficial in scavenging scarce soil phosphorus, assisting in nodulation and nitrogen fixation, as well as increasing in the effective area of the mycorrhizal root system for water uptake, increasing plant drought resistance (Dawson et al., 1992).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
40 34 200 2500

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -12
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 18
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -7 -4

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration24number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall7002000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Summer
Winter

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page The most serious pest to R. pseudoacacia is the locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae. Locust borer larvae construct feeding tunnels throughout the wood, and the holes serve as entry points for diseases that cause extensive wood decay. Attacks can begin at a young age and, in some situations, damage can be so extensive that trees are not suitable for timber purposes. Slow-growing trees on poor sites are most susceptible to borer attack. Outbreaks of the locust leafminer Odontota dorsalis occur almost yearly in the USA, and R. pseudoacacia trees throughout an entire region are often defoliated and many are killed during years of low rainfall. Another insect is the locust twig borer, Ecdytolopha insiticiana, with attacks occurring over a wide area and seedling mortality may be high in heavily infested areas. Phyllonorycter robiniellus (P. robiniella) and Parectopa robiniella were observed infesting R. pseudoacacia in Trentino, Italy (Angeli et al., 1996). The rate of larval parasitism, infection by entomogenous fungi and the efficacy of two insecticides were reported. Cydia trasias is an important insect pest in China (Chen and Qi, 1996).

Common diseases are heart rot (Phellinus rimosus or Polyporus robiniophilus) and witches' broom disease, caused by a virus, Chlorogenus robiniae. In the southern Appalachians, USA, most large trees are infected with heart rot and decay of trunk wood is extensive. In the Texas root-rot belt, R. pseudoacacia is extremely susceptible to Phymatotrichum omnivorum (Hepting, 1971). In Germany, Kehr and Butin (1996) reported local leaf diseases of R. pseudoacacia. Fusarium oxysporum and F. solani were identified as the causal agents of serious canker of R. pseudoacacia in coastal areas of Shandong, China (Hong and Ji, 1996). Aphids and Nectria canker also affect the tree (Hoffard and Anderson, 1982), with Nectria cinnabarina reported to cause high mortality and dieback of branches in New Brunswick, Canada (Sickle, 1974).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Information on natural dissemination of seed is limited, but large amounts of wind-dispersed seed are produced annually and this is assumed to be the principal means of dispersal. International spread has been due to intentional introduction for perceived positive benefits.

Impact Summary

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

Environmental Impact

Top of page Due to nitrogen-fixating ability, changes in nutrient cycling may occur. Sabo (2000) details increased nitrogen concentration in stream waters draining out of areas with R. pseudoacacia stands.

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page R. pseudoacacia invasion inhibits the growth of native species and plant species composition can be heavily impacted (Sabo, 2000).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • 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
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page R. pseudoacacia is used by foresters of Europe, North America and Asia for the production of wood products, as a shade or nurse tree (Keresztezi, 1980) and large animal forage (Cheeke, 1992), but it is also widely planted for erosion control, amelioration of sites and reclamation of disturbed sites (Bridgen, 1992; Gupta, 1993). It is cultivated in urban areas as an ornamental tree, because of its shape and pea-like blossoms. It is also adaptable to environmental extremes such as drought, air pollution and high light intensities (Hanover, 1990). It can be incorporated into multi-layered, mixed species plantings, and is a suitable candidate for agroforestry plantations, e.g. Muthoo and Kango (1965), Chandra and Sharma (1976) and Sagwal (1995) in India. It may even prove useful for alley cropping in temperate climates. A dense growth habit makes black locust suitable for windbreaks, most commonly in China and Russia (Gras, 1991). The same considerations make this tree a valuable nurse crop for other tree species. R. pseudoacacia is capable of nitrogen fixation and is, therefore, widely planted for soil improvement.

R. pseudoacacia produces a durable, tough and high quality wood which can be used for many purposes, including posts, poles, piling, mine props, wall panelling, flooring, fence posts, vine props, furniture, fruit boxes, pulp and paper, and biomass energy. The wood is usually straight-grained and fairly coarse textured, and has a tendency to warp. Wood is naturally yellowish-green in colour. It has excellent properties for steam bending, and high pressure steaming can change the colour to golden yellow, yellowish brown, light or dark brown (Savill, 1991). Conventional use of R. pseudoacacia wood has been dictated by its ability to resist decay. The decay resistance results from its heartwood extractives, mainly flavonoids (such as robinetin) (Smith, 1992). With the exception of roundwood products, black locust has had little commercial use in the USA because large R. pseudoacacia trees are diseased and the production of high quality large diameter logs is a rarity throughout much of its native range (Stringer, 1992). However, larger logs can be used for veneers (Savill, 1991). Its high specific gravity is advantageous for its use as a fuel. The wood makes a good charcoal. and is also used in many countries in short rotation, intensive culture for wood biomass production for energy purposes. In Hungary, R. pseudoacacia is often grown for wood on small private farms (Keresztesi, 1988a, b).

R. pseudoacacia produces forage for animals such as poultry, ruminants (Cheeke, 1992), pigs and rabbits (Keresztezi, 1980), especially in those areas where alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is in short supply (Horton and Christensen, 1981). In all cases, relatively poor animal performance occurred. Leaf protein digestibility is reported to be low, leaves have a crude protein content of 24% and its proteins have low nutritive value (Verma and Mishra, 1989) because of the presence of condensed tannins (Horigome et al., 1984). The nutritive value of R. pseudoacacia leaves in growing Soviet Chinchilla rabbits was reported by Singh et al. (1997). The effect of feeding R. pseudoacacia leaves on the immune-response in broiler rabbits was studied by Tiwari et al. (1996), and showed that leaves could be used as the sole dietary ingredient in rabbit diets without adverse effects on the immune system when supplemented with concentrate mixture. The bark of black locust has been found to contain lectins, proteins that aggluminate red blood cells (Smith, 1992). Tannins and lectin proteins found in leaves and inner bark can interfere with digestion in ruminants and nonruminants (Harris et al., 1984). Tannin levels are high in young leaves but decrease as the leaves mature.

Nectar and pollen provided by R. pseudoacacia is valued as bee forage (Keresztezi, 1978) and in Europe it is widely planted for honey production. In Hungary, honey is the most important secondary product associated with R. pseudoacacia (Keresztezi, 1977) and Bencat (1986) reported high honey production derived from R. pseudoacacia flowers. The flowers have a very pleasent aroma and they are used in the perfume industry to produce eau de toilette and by herbalists as a remedy against stomach acidity. A good herbal tea with calming and antispasmodic properties can be produced using 12 g of dried or fresh flowers per cup of boiling water (Tocci, 1986).

Uses List

Top of page

Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil improvement
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Materials

  • Carved material
  • Fibre
  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Poisonous to mammals
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

Top of page

Boats

Charcoal

Containers

  • Boxes
  • Cases
  • Crates
  • Pallets

Furniture

Pulp

  • Short-fibre pulp

Railway sleepers

Roundwood

  • Building poles
  • Piles
  • Pit props
  • Posts
  • Stakes

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • Exterior fittings
  • Fences
  • Flooring
  • For light construction
  • Wall panelling

Veneers

Wood gas (and other hydrocarbons

Wood-based materials

  • Fibreboard
  • Particleboard
  • Plywood

Woodware

  • Cutlery
  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Sports equipment
  • Tool handles
  • Turnery

Prevention and Control

Top of page

No present techniques provide effective control of R. pseudoacacia, mostly due to its resprouting ability, however, Converse (1984) noted that R. pseudoacacia seedling growth and nitrogen fixation was reduced allelopathically by several herbaceous species including Solidago altissima and Andropogon virginicus. Cutting or burning usually increases sucker and sprout activity (Converse, 1984) although repeated cutting can eventually kill the tree (Weber, 2003). Seedlings and saplings may also be pulled or dug out, but the roots should be removed (Weber, 2003).

Most management has focused on the use of chemical control with variable success, since apparently killed plants can resprout several years after treatment (Converse, 1984). Glyphosate was effective in Christmas tree plantations in Maryland (Huntley, 1990). Converse (1984) describes various attempts to control R. pseudoacacia chemically using glyphosate, picloram, AMS, 2,4-D, 2,4-DP, triclopyr, and freshly cut stumps may also be treated effectively with glyphosate (Weber, 2003).

References

Top of page

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