A small group of deciduous trees and shrubs grown for their elegant pinnate foliage. The main species has a spiny trunk and stems, although some cultivars are thornless.

Family: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Gleditsia triacanthos
Common Names: honey locust, sweet locust, three-thorned acacia

Foliage: Deciduous, pinnate or bipinnate, oval-shaped green leaflets. Yellow autumn colour.

Blossom: Small-green-white flowers. Flattened long brown seed pods are borne in warmer climates or long hot summers in the UK.

Flowering Period: Summer

Soil: Well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun, any aspect.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Shrub or tree.

Origin: USA, western and central Asia.

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Gleditsia

Bare-root trees can be planted from November to March. Container grown varieties can be planting at any reasonable time.

Thrives in any well-drained soil but prefers dry acidic conditions. Best planted in an open, sunny position, although it will tolerate some shade. Grows rapidly and thrives in poor conditions.

Tolerant of atmospheric pollution.

Taking Care of Gleditsia

Water well until established. Reasonably drought resistant once established.

Pruning Gleditsia

Prune young trees to encourage a good leading shoot in late summer. Remove any dead, damaged or crossing wood in spring.

Pests and Diseases

Can be affected by gall midge and honey fungus.

Propagating Gleditsia

Sow seed of species in spring, after a period of stratification. Protect young seedlings during winter in a cold frame.

Varieties of Gleditsia

The main species in the UK is G. triacanthos.

Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust) is a medium to large sized tree with attractive fern-like, bright-green foliage. Flattened, dark brown seed pods are produced in warmer regions. Height up to 60ft (20m). Garden worthy cultivars include:

  • 'Elegantissima' a dense, slow-growing shrub with elegant glossy foliage. Height to 10ft (3m).
  • 'Inermis' is a small tree with a dense compact crown. Height up to 20ft (6m).
  • 'Sunburst' forms a broad, rounded crown with spineless branches. The foliage is golden in spring-summer, later becoming a mixture of gold and green. Makes a superb lawn specimen. Height up to 20ft (6m).