Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia

$6.97
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Zone: 3a

Native Range: Eastern and Central United States

Height: 30-50 ft

Spread: 20-35 ft

Moisture: Dry to Medium

Light: Full Sun

Growth rate: Very Fast

Bloom Time: May-June

Life Span: 80-90 years

 

It is difficult to overstate the value of this tree. Below you will find a breakdown of the many purposes that this plant is used for.

 

Firewood- Black Locust produces, in record time, dense firewood that burns very hot. If you want to grow your own firewood on your property you can’t beat Black Locust. Also, due to its suckering, you can harvest the same area repeatedly without replanting.

Lumber- Black Locust is extremely anti-fungal and fence posts/pole-barn beams made of black locust have been reported to outlast both pressure treated lumber and cedar. One more benefit to having a stand of Black Locust on a rural property- fence post production that can’t be beat.

 

Nitrogen Fixing- Black Locust is a leguminous tree, which means it boasts the ability of ‘creating’ nitrogen out of thin air. Black Locust will aid in the growth of trees that are planted alongside them and leave the soil in better shape than when you first planted them there.

 

Erosion control- Because of Black Locust’s fast growth rate and suckering quality, it is ideal for populating an area that is experiencing significant erosion and will serve to prevent this erosion from continuing.

 

Ornamental and Edible Flowers- Black Locust produces an abundance of large, highly fragrant, and beautiful flowers that are as valuable as an ornamental as they are delicious to eat.

Shade- Black Locust provides a light, mottled shade that is a pleasure to sit under.

 

Bee Forage- Due to it’s high volume of flowers in the spring it is an amazing place for both our native bees as well as honey bees to forage. When in full flower you will be able to hear the bees buzzing happily among the branches.

 

Fertilizer- Black Locust’s leaves and especially its green seed pods hold an abundance of nitrogen and can easily be turned into a potent fertilizer for use in the garden.

 

Reforestation- Black Locust is an amazing “nurse tree”. When planting an area with new trees it is often a great idea to plant Black Locust among them. Black Locust will grow much faster than anything else, it will provide light, mottled shade to the trees under them and will prevent them from scorching or drying out from the sun and heat. They will also provide a boost of nitrogen, leading to faster growth, due to its nitrogen fixing qualities. When the time comes that the trees you wish to keep become substantial enough in size to not need the shade anymore, chop down the Black Locust. All suckers/saplings of the Black Locust will then die off as they are completely intolerant of being shaded. What remains is a beautiful reforested area that grew faster and required less watering early on.

 

Chop N Drop- Going along with its use as a nurse tree, Black Locust can be chopped down to the ground, year after year, leaving the soil beneath it a continuous boost of organic matter and nitrogen, it also acts as a mulch reducing the need for rain or hand watering. At a certain point the Black Locust will become tired from the repeated aggressive cuttings and will die, this typically happens at a point in time that you will no longer require it as a nurse tree.

 

Silvopasture- Black Locust is a great choice for silvopasturing, due to its light shade it allows the pasture below to grow and will conserve moisture that would easily be lost mid-summer if the sun were hitting the ground directly. The grazers will also eat and control suckering. In high quantities Black Locust is potentially toxic, but it is widely reported that grazers will actually limit their intake and not have any issues. *This is apparently not the case for horses and you should avoid pasturing horses among black locust*

 

Black Locust has the unfortunate reputation of being considered an Invasive Plant, so make sure that your location doesn’t legally prevent the planting of it. This reputation is due to its fast growth, prolific suckering and habit of appearing in open and exposed areas such as farm fields. Being a pioneer species, this is exactly what Black Locust was ‘designed’ to do; to enter an area that needs healing, reforesting, and provide the perfect environment for an understory to grow and eventually overtake and displace the Black Locust.

Be aware that Black Locust will produce thorns (though smaller than standard honey locust) on new growth and especially on suckers.

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