City of Colorado Springs / Forestry / Colorado Springs & Trees / Arbor Day Trees / Honey Locust

Honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos

Honey locust tree in fall colors
Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulturist,
The honey locust is native to most of the Untied States. It can easily reach a height of 60 feet, with fast growth, and is relatively short-lived; their life spans are typically about 120 years. The branch spread is usually equal to the tree?s height. The fast growth rate and tolerance of poor site conditions (tolerant of pollution and salt) make the honey locust valued in areas where growth is wanted quickly, such as new parks or housing developments, as street trees, and in disturbed and reclaimed environments, such as mine tailings. The honey locust casts only light shade, which allows turf to grow beneath them. Honey locusts are hardy to zone 4 and grow best in full sun in deep, moist, fertile soils of neutral pH, though it is adaptable to a range of soils.
Pod of the tree
Richard Old, XID Services, Inc.,


Honey locusts produce a high quality, durable wood. The fruit of the Honey locust is a flat pod with a sweet, edible pulp on the inside which gives the tree its name. The pulp was used for food by Native American people and can be used as high protein cattle fodder, but pods can be numerous and messy. Blossoms are nondescript, though fragrant, and leaves turn a showy, clear yellow in the fall. Honey locusts commonly have defensive thorns that can also be safety concern. The honey locust is a low water-use tree and is quick to sequester larger than average quantities of carbon. Shademaster and Skyline varieties were planted at this location.


The 'Shademaster' variety is popular for its upright, symmetrical growth habit to 40' tall. It produces some pods and has good, deep green foliage. It also reportedly has very good drought tolerance.


'Skycole', or Skyline, variety is a cold-hardy form with yellow fall color and few fruits, this selection is most notable for its unusual upright growth habit. It forms a broadly pyramidal tree 40' tall and wide. It makes a good street tree and is widely regarded as one of the finest forms available.