Honey Locust, Gleditsia triacanthos, is a great American wood for the 4th of July week! The tree can reach a height of 65 to 100 feet and produce dense and durable lumber that works well and takes a nice polish. With fast growth, Honey Locust trees are relatively short-lived; their life spans are typically about 120 years, though some live up to 150 years. They are prone to losing large branches in windstorms. Honey Locust trees do not grow in sufficient numbers to support a bulk industry like Maple or Oak; rather, they provide aunique wood to a small niche market. Logs are also used for posts and rails since the wood takes a long time to rot. In the past, the hard thorns of the younger trees have been used as nails.
Despite its name, the Honey Locust is not a significant honey plant. The name is derived from the sweet taste of the legume pulp, which was used for food by Native American people and can also be fermented to make beer. The long pods, which eventually dry and ripen to brown or maroon are surrounded in a tough, leathery skin that adheres very strongly to the pulp within. The pulpbright green in unripe podsis strongly sweet, crisp and succulent in unripe pods. Dark brown tannin-rich beans are found in slots within the pulp.