During inventory sessions we are never surprised to come across a honeylocust. In fact, over 10%, of all the trees we have inventoried are honeylocusts!
Considered a weed tree in many places, the honeylocust grows fast and is ideal for areas that are in immediate need of shade. This is why we often find honeylocusts around parking lots or beside streets. Hamilton’s Street Tree Planting Program offers the tree and its prevalence stems from tolerance to urban environmental conditions such as compact soil, salt, and drought.
Other characteristic features of this tree are its small, plentiful leaflets, and its long twisted seedpods.
The tiny leaflets are known for providing pleasant dappled shade, but are a chore to sweep up when fall comes. We are not calling the leaflets that name because they are small and cute, but because that is their official name. Each row of leaflets along a stem forms a compound leaf. On this picture below, you can easily distinguish the leaflets from the larger compound leaf.
The honeylocust seedpods are long and twisted, containing a sweet sap for which the tree is named after. The pods are pale green until they mature in the fall to become a reddish brown. Like other trees, producing seeds is energy intensive, so it was neat to see several honeylocusts exploding with seedpod production on Barton (pictured earlier). When trees are producing seedpods, they are diverting energy away from growth of branches or trunk. Due to this, they will likely not produce large seed yields year after year.