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Indestructible! Honeylocust is a rugged, resilient, fast-growing shade tree that needs no pampering. Commonly grown in parking lots, it thrives even in challenging conditions. In return for very little care, this dependable native tree provides a nice, dappled shade by virtue of its tiny leaflets; the canopy gives relief from the hot summer sun, but the shade is not so dense that you can’t grow grass underneath it. In early fall, most trees put on a lovely show of golden fall color. A benefit to wildlife as well, the tiny spring flowers nourish small bees and hoverflies, and the foliage supports many caterpillars, which in turn feed birds.
May Benefit & Attract: chickadees & titmice, sparrows, wood warblers, thrushes, wrens, woodpeckers, mockingbirds & thrashers, crows & jays, waxwings, vireos, cardinals & grosbeaks, nuthatches, orioles
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Honeylocust is native over much of the east-central United States, its range extending from Iowa to Texas and east to Pennsylvania and Alabama. It is recognized in the wild by its long, menacing thorns, which come right out of the trunk. The vicious thorns may have been a defense that evolved against large, roaming grazers that no longer exist, such as mastodons. Today, the spikes may be utilized by loggerhead shrikes, plucky little predator-birds that impale their victims on thorns! Honeylocust is also recognized by the long, twisted seed pods borne on female trees. They contain a sweet, gummy substance, from which the tree gets its name.
Among the 48 or so species of caterpillars that Honeylocust hosts are some of our most dramatic native moths, such as the imperial, polyphemus, cecropia, and io moths. There are also several interesting but lesser-known species that rely exclusively on Honeylocust foliage to survive, such as the Honeylocust, bisected Honeylocust, moon-lined, and little underwing moths.
How to Grow
Plant it green side up! Honeylocust is one of the most forgiving trees you can grow, though proper siting and knowledgeable care will result in the optimal growth and attractiveness of your tree. This tree needs to be in full sun to perform its best and it likes moist soil, but it doesn’t do well in sites that are constantly wet. Once it becomes established, it will tolerate dry periods, but growth will be more robust with regular irrigation. Honeylocust responds to an annual application of fertilizer, such as the Bower & Branch Elements™ Fertilizer, in the fall. If necessary, pruning should also be carried out in the fall.
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