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Black locust is a leguminous deciduous tree that grows from 30 to 80 feet tall. It is often attacked by stem borers and other insects, causing deformed growth and dieback. It has a shallow, fibrous root system and spreads by underground rhizomes. Young saplings have smooth, green bark; older trees have deep, furrowed, shaggy, dark bark with flat-topped ridges. Leaves are alternate and pinnately compound with 7 to 21 leaflets. Leaflets are thin, elliptical, dark green above, and pale beneath. Smaller branches are armed with heavy, paired thorns. Flowers are pea-like, fragrant, white and yellow, and born in large drooping racemes. Seed pods are shiny, smooth, narrow, flat, 2 to 4 inches long, and contain 4 to 8 seeds. Black locust stands are easy to identify in spring because they typically form multiple-stemmed clones and are slow to leaf out. They produce showy flower clusters in May or June.
Black locust commonly occurs in disturbed habitats like pastures, degraded woods, thickets, old fields, and roadsides. Successful reproduction via vegetative runners has contributed to the naturalization of black locust in upland forests, prairies, and savannas. Because dense clonal stands shade out most understory vegetation, such tree groves can be detrimental to native vegetation. Black locust is a translocated deciduous tree that is frequently found in upland prairies, savannas, roadsides, old fields, and woodlots in Wisconsin. Black locust prefers humid climates with sandy, loamy, well-drained soils in open, sunny locations. Black Locust often grows alongside White Oak, Black Oak, Scarlet Oak, hickories, American Beech, Red Maple, Silver Maple, American Basswood, Yellow Poplar, Eastern Redcedar, American Elm, Black Cherry, White Ash, Black Walnut, Sassafras, Flowering Dogwood, Blackgum, and bluegrasses.
Black Locust is the host plant for Silver-spotted Skippers and Clouded Sulphur butterflies. Black Locust does not compete well with other trees and does not tolerate shade, so it often gets crowded out. It grows very fast, but does not live long compared to most trees. It rarely lives to be 100 years old. Black Locust can survive drought and harsh winters. The black locust flowers are cut into small pieces until they become a fine powder and are then to be administered on an empty stomach five or six times a day in treating gastritis, gastric ulcer or duodenal. The treatment lasts a month and it can be resumed whenever needed. In case of constipation, honey is added to three spoons of black locust flower powder. This treatment has powerful results and is mild and recommended to women and children.
Spotted on Apr 23, 2012
Submitted on May 26, 2012