print Print

Thornless HoneylocustGleditsia triacanthos form inermis

  • Thornless Honeylocust - Gleditsia triacanthos inermis

The thornless honeylocust has captured the hearts of arborists, community foresters and homeowners throughout America. And no wonder. This tree is easy to plant, grows fast, has reasonably strong branches, is aesthetically pleasing and is tough enough to withstand just about any urban setting.

In nature it grows in both a thorned and thornless form, with thorns growing up to 12" long. Many regions in the South still refer to honelocusts as Confederate pintrees because those thorns were used to pin uniforms together during the Civil War.


Hardiness Zones

The thornless honeylocust can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–9. View Map

Tree Type

This is a shade tree, featuring a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight.

Mature Size

The thornless honeylocust grows to a height of 30–70' and a spread of 30–70' at maturity.

Growth Speed Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The thornless honeylocust tolerates a wide range of soils including acidic, alkaline, moist, dry and salty soils. It has moderate tolerance for both flooding and drought.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Is very easy to plant and grow.
  • Provides showy yellow color in the fall.
  • Features pinnately or bipinnately compound leaves approximately 8" long with 8–14 leaflets. They are among the last leaves to emerge in the spring.
  • Produces small, greenish-yellow blossoms arranged around spike-like stalks that are notably fragrant.
  • Yields large, brown seed pods resembling twisted leather straps that are 7–8" long, sometimes reaching up to 18" in length.
  • Develops a thin, airy crown that provides dappled shade while allowing grass to grow beneath.
  • Tolerates wet and dry sites, salt, compacted soil, pollution and most other urban stresses.
  • Grows in an oval or round shape.
  • Can be used on hillsides to stabilize poor soil and control erosion.

Wildlife Value

Thornless honeylocust seed pods and seeds are consumed by livestock and wildlife such as rabbits, deer, squirrels and northern bobwhite. The flowers provide a good source of food for bees.

History/Lore

The thornless honeylocust is native from Pennsylvania to Nebraska and south to Texas. The first scientific observations of this species were made in 1700. The tree derives the name "Honey" from the sweet, honey-like substance found in its pods. The Cherokees in Tennessee made bows from the tree's durable and strong wood. It has also long been a favorite for fence posts.