Gleditsia Species, Honey Locust, Sweet Locust, Three-Thorned Acacia

Gleditsia triacanthos

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Gleditsia (gleh-DIT-see-uh) (Info)
Species: triacanthos (try-a-KAN-thos) (Info)
Synonym:Acacia triacanthos



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Pale Green

Chartreuse (yellow-green)


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Clovis, California

Larkspur, Colorado

Wellington, Colorado

Lady Lake, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Ellijay, Georgia

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

Benton, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Frankfort, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky(2 reports)

Melbourne, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Paris, Kentucky

Versailles, Kentucky

Fryeburg, Maine

Cumberland, Maryland

Halifax, Massachusetts

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Bellaire, Michigan

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sturgis, Mississippi

Waynesboro, Mississippi

Caulfield, Missouri

Fulton, Missouri

Saint Charles, Missouri

Sedalia, Missouri

Bigfork, Montana

Henderson, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

Clovis, New Mexico

Placitas, New Mexico

Carrboro, North Carolina

Oxford, North Carolina

Rougemont, North Carolina

Beach, North Dakota

Belfield, North Dakota

Columbus, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Portland, Oregon

East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Media, Pennsylvania

Summerville, South Carolina

Clarksville, Tennessee

Dickson, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Alice, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Richmond, Texas

Santa Fe, Texas

Lehi, Utah

South Jordan, Utah

Lexington, Virginia

Richlands, Virginia

Brady, Washington

Montesano, Washington

Elmwood, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 22, 2017, wes001 from Wesley Chapel,
United States wrote:

Does anyone know anyone that sells the thorny Honey locus tree sprouts? I want to buy some young ones that I can prune and train to create a thorn hedge from hell to keep out intruders. I can't find any supplier other than just seeds. Is it legal to buy or sell them? I live in Florida and have seen them growing wild along the river banks here.


On Apr 1, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This species has been overplanted in North American cities (in its thornless, podless cultivars), because it thrives under city conditions, and because lawn grass can grow in its shade. Fifty years ago, when it was uncommon, it had few problems. But because it's been grown so commonly, its diseases and insect pests have become much more common.

Many commenters below are confusing Honeylocust and Black Locust, despite the attempts of other commenters to distinguish them.

Honeylocust does tend to sucker, but this isn't nearly the problem that it is with Black Locust.


On Mar 31, 2016, Rmomma from Saint Charles, MO wrote:

My fellow Missourian's may be misinformed. The invasive tree is a Locust, a Black Locust rather than a Honey Locust. They have huge thorns and beautiful fragrant clusters of white blooms that smell somewhat like Honeysuckle in the spring. They send up shooters (can't think of the appropriate term at the moment) and are pretty aggressive spreaders. My parents had a single Black Locust in their yard for years and my father constantly battled the little shoots. But the flowers were heavenly, the leaves weren't a bother in the fall and the tree provided lovely dappled shade. Funny I tried to transplant the shoots several times without luck and ended up planting Shademaster Locusts instead.


On Nov 2, 2015, pastapicker from Columbus, OH wrote:

What you need to know if you are considering using Honey Locust in your landscaping based on my experience with a 35+ year old, thornless unknown name cultivar:

Pros: attractive lacey foliage, graceful branches, provides dappled shade, survives to at least -20F and tolerates drought and compacted clay soil once established, a very large tree. Leaves do need to be cleared from gutter toppers (will sit on and clog) or patios, but no need to rake in the lawn. My cultivar (whatever it is) does not sucker. This is NOT the locust with the very fragrant, honey scented flowers -- that is the black locust.

Cons: drops hundreds, maybe thousands of large seed pods (I fill up three 35 gallon trash cans every year just from the pods that drop from my neighbor's tre... read more


On Feb 8, 2015, GregInTN from Nashville, TN wrote:


The honey locust is native to Central and Eastern US, but, as others have said, is naturally an aggressive plant. That's different than an "invasive" tree, except in areas outside of its native range. I think people are using the term "invasive" too liberally here and could be giving false information to people. The plant is not "invasive" in most of America, it is just aggressive.

Think about it--if you define everything that spreads and survives successfully without human coddling as "invasive," then you're dooming yourself to an agriculture of only weak plants that need coddling. The Honey Locust certainly has a zest for life, and it's native to a lot of places where it's also being planted for landscaping. So what's the problem?

We ... read more


On May 30, 2014, want2buy from Brady, WA wrote:

Somebody said that their honey locust tree (which is illegal and quarantined along with the directly related Black Locust Tree in states like California) was their "Devil Tree." It is. I planted a trendy ornamental that was supposedly an innocent horticultural creation, called the Twisty Baby Locust Tree. It is grafted onto the Black Locust and was supposed to be mild mannered, flowering unreliably and putting out invasive seed pods irregularly too. Only supposed to grow up to 15 feet. It has been lovely. I bought it to commemorate and mourn my baby son, who died due to stillbirth. HOWEVER. It has been a few years and last spring we received unrecognizable woody THICK sucker-like branches coming out of the ground. The double sets of needles along each stem were up to 2 inches long... read more


On Sep 20, 2012, danelady from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

I inherited this tree with the half acre of land that I purchased my house on in Las Vegas Nevada. I was not aware of what type of tree it was. But after some reading and research on the internet and help from websites like Dave's Garden, I was able to figure out what it was. After reading several reviews, I must say that I was surprised to hear any negatives on this particular tree. I have one that is thornless. It does send up some suckers, but no big deal. I just mower them over with the lawn mower. The tree is absolutely beautiful. It has a somewhat lacy ferny look to it in the spring. Summer you can't beat the shade that it provides from the scorching sun and it stands up the the horrific dry winds without losing any of its beautiful true green color and no burning of the lea... read more


On May 2, 2012, Currahee from Ellijay, GA wrote:

The honey locust was known to the Cherokee as kalasetsi. It was one of their principal sources of a sweetener. In modern Cherokee, usually Anglicized as kalseji, the word has come to mean sugar or candy. The name of Cullasaja [NC] is derived from kalasetsi, so that a reasonably good translation would be "Sugartown." More detailed information can be found by Googling "Cherokee Place Names."


On Aug 7, 2010, lindalouok from Ann Arbor, MI wrote:

Horrible tree. Yes, it looks beautiful, but if you do not use chemicals on your lawn, it will sprout from suckers all over the place. It is INVASIVE and should not be used or planted. Unfortunately, my supposedly green city of Ann Arbor plants/planted these trees in the easements, furthering the use of chemicals by many homeowners.


On Jun 10, 2010, Podfarmer wrote:


I am a South African farmer and we have 40-60 year old Honey Locust on the farm as a fodder reserve. Very positive experience -as they grow in clay, survive drought and even survive complete ring barking by goats.

Pods drop exactly the right time and ruminants kill any suckers. Trees survive PH of 4 and 600mm of rain, 40 C summers and -10 winters.

The trees were planted by a grandfather as a experiment, and it has paid off. I now want to experiement with the Millwood cultivar. If there is anybody that can assist with graftwood would appreciate it a lot. Want more pods, faster growth and all the good stuff. Prefer thorns.




On Mar 5, 2010, Serpent_moon from Larkspur, CO wrote:

I found a seed pod of this plant. How should i plant these seeds? I found it in February. Also what should i do to these seeds regarding cold-spell time and water and things like that?


On Dec 18, 2009, davecito from Carrboro, NC wrote:

I gotta defend the honey locust.

Like many, if not most leguminous trees and lianas (mesquite, kudzu, pacay, many others), they can spread very aggressively, and can be very challenging to eradicate, so know what you're getting into, and do not be careless in where you plant it.

There are thornless cultivars, so if you want a mature plant, that's what to look for.

This all noted, they are handsome trees, with great foliage, which is beautiful in the fall.

They are also another sweet legume: like pacay, tamarind and mesquite, the pods are both edible and sweet. The beans themselves are nearly worthless, from a culinary standpoint, as they degenerate into slop when cooked. But the pulp in green pods is delicious. Do not confuse ... read more


On Aug 6, 2009, napdognewfie from Cumberland, MD (Zone 6a) wrote:

Lots of these trees grow here. Very popular for fence posts because they don't rot & for firewood because it burns hot & for a long time. Bees love them & Locust honey is wonderful. The flowers smell like heaven & perfume the air all around when in bloom. Very pleasant to sit on the porch & enjoy them.


On Apr 12, 2009, Wolfgang_E_B from Fulton, MO wrote:

This tree grows wild all over Missouri's woodlands and meadows. When I first moved here, I discovered a row of them growing along a fence in a field across the street. I quickly fell in love with the gorgeous fern-like foliage, the golden fall color, the deep maroon velvet seed pods, and most of all, the magnificent red-maroon thorns.

Old honey locusts that I've seen growing in the woods are tall towers with thorny trunks and a high canopy of foliage. Younger trees tend toward a broader, spreading growth habit, with many branches hanging close to the ground.

I just started 3 seedlings this spring and look forward to planting them in my yard.


On Apr 8, 2009, pipndani2 from Wellington, CO wrote:

We have one tree (thornless) growing well in a difficult climate/poor soil/little water situation. We need dozens more that will fruit, preferably heavily, for planting on our acreage for supplemental livestock feed. Most pastured animals relish the pods and can be fattened on them; wildlife will also eat them (people will, too, as the pods are very sweet -- honey locust, hint, hint). Why rake the tiny leaves? Seems like they would make a nice fertilizer/mulch. See J. Russell Smith's Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, for more info on G. triacanthos as a cash crop.


On Feb 21, 2008, lobsterandi from Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Well.... I read everyone else's horror stories and thought I had to do a little defending of this plant.

I guess it depends on what kind of seeds you're getting, but I've never had much of a problem with suckers or thorns. Yes, there are some thorns but... they don't seem to do much.

The leaves are very nice, though, and this tree is pretty rare this far up north. I haven't had any babies popping up - but that might be because of my zone. I planted it to fill a big space in a wide open yard, and for that purpose it was wonderful. The leaves are nice and lacy and light, so the area under the tree still gets plenty of sun to grow a nice lawn and some shade liking plants.


On Sep 20, 2006, sherlockvulcan wrote:

Recently purchased 75 acres of pasture in SW Missouri. This plant grows there, voraciously, and has absolutely NO value whatsover. It will "run" over the pasture, reproduce rapidly when cut, and prevent animals grazing close to it. The only cure is to cut down each seedling, bush, tree, then immediately apply "Tordon" RTU to the clean, fresh surface. This will come close to killing the 'wretched' plant. As you might imagine, cleaning up 75 acres is "work".


On Jun 6, 2006, Crimson from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

When we moved into our new home I first saw this tree, not knowing what to call it we called it 'The Devil Tree'.

Little did I know that is the kindest thing I would ever say about it! Horrendous, appalling, vicious, a truly horrible noxious, invasive weed of a tree... without the right to have anything remotely nice ever said about it.

Once you have this you may as well move, you'll never get rid of it even if you burn the whole area. The thorns are poisonous, a scratch WILL get infected... if you step on a spine, even with shoes you will have to get a pliers to remove the HUGE vicious spine from deep in your foot... makes cactus look cuddly.

So horribly invasive that overnight it will spring up many spiney babies up to 8 ft away from the o... read more


On Feb 27, 2006, Kiweed from Saratoga Springs, UT (Zone 8a) wrote:

Don't confuse with Robinia, also called "Locust"! The spiecies is thorny, but there are thornless and podless varieties (G. t. inermis) that make beautiful lacey garden trees around here...nice fall color. They are tough trees in heat, cold and just about any soil. Drought tolerant. Old roots can crack cement...don't plant in narrow strips. Small leaves will easily decompose in lawns, so you don't need to rake them. Some of the thornless selections do have the long black seedpods that are quite pretty in fall against the golden foilage. If you want the pods go for 'Halka', which is fast growing with a strong trunk and horizontal branch pattern. 'Moraine' is a graceful spreading tree, fast growing; watch out for wind damage. 'Shademaster' grows quickest and is an upright form. '... read more


On Jul 13, 2005, Z71JROD from Clovis, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

These are very nice shade trees and very quick growing. They are widely used in this area. The only real complaint is that the seed pods can make a huge mess. My neighbor picked up 22 bags of pods last season. I have not had too many problems with the suckers but I have seen this problem at some other places. Overall a good tree though.


On Jun 26, 2005, 01Leta from Bigfork,, MT (Zone 5a) wrote:

Dave's Garden Members:

My two thornless Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) 'Sunburst' were just planted yesterday, June 24, '05, therefore, I cannot give either a negative or positive, just neutral. I shall keep you informed as our two babies grow, should they require a 'negative or positive' experience.

Bigfork, Montana (Big Sky Country)


On Nov 26, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

We have a small Honey locust that we dug up from a builder's lot and moved it to our yard. We love the foliage in summer and Fall, but it does have very long thorns, whick we remove from the trunk so no one will be hurt. We have pollarded the tree so that it won't get out of hand, it grows very fast, but we are keeping under control that way. So far no root suckers we shall see what happens as it gets older.
Gleditsia triacanthos ,Honey locust, is ntive to Texas and other States.


On Jul 9, 2004, glrivera from Las Cruces, NM wrote:

I've had a honey locust for about 13 years. It's a great tree for shade and landscaping but.... the suckers are awful. They pop up everywhere, the roots break the soil and grow into the house foundation. If I'd known they could get out of hand, I would have controlled them more. Now I have stumps from the larger suckers and is unsightly. This tree definitely needs alot of room to grow. The bean pods are a mess to pick up in addition to the small tiny leaves that are hard to rake up. I think this tree would be good in a large acreage or yard, but not for a small contained area.


On May 20, 2004, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

We purchased the Thornless Honey Locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos inermis) in April 1993 for what now seems to be a ridiculous price of $3.97. My husband planted it in an area where builders had dumped gravel over already rock-hard clay soil, and I swore it would never grow there. Little did I know! It's a beautiful tree with fern-like lacy foliage which becomes golden yellow in the fall. Long, dark brown twisted seed pods ripen over winter. The roots have stayed below ground, for the most part, and have never produced suckers. A very few seedlings emerged in cultivated flower beds but have definitely not been a problem. (USDA Zone 8a, Summerville, SC)


On Jan 3, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The unimproved species is native to the eastern US, and is incredibly thorny, making it hazardous to have as a lawn specimen. These thorns are fish-hook in shape. It suckers frequently from shallow roots, which can be invasive.