Black locust is a tenacious eastern species, commonly found as a pioneer on disturbed sites. Its ability to "fix" atmospheric nitrogen and grow rapidly have led to its use for land reclamation. Despite being shortlived and subject to insect attacks and heart-rot, black locust remains a valuable species in many utilitarian ways.
Black locust is not commonly regenerated deliberately and is often considered a weed in timber production. Very intolerant of shade, black locust requires clearcut or seed-tree methods. It stump sprouts and root suckers abundantly.
Black locust can grow on a very wide variety of sites. It can rapidly colonize abandoned fields.
A medium sized tree to 70 feet, with a relatively straight trunk and a crown of crooked branches. Often forms thickets by root suckering.
Black locust is used for fenceposts, mine timbers, poles, railroad ties, ship timbers, wooden pins, pegs, nails, stakes, boxes, crates, pulpwood, fuelwood, and novelties.
Black locust provides cover for a variety of species. Deer browse seedlings and young trees. Heartrot leads to use by cavity excavating birds.
Attracts northern bobwhite, deer, squirrels, woodpeckers, flickers, screech owls
Insects and Diseases
Black locust wood is very durable and rot resistant. It is most often used for fence posts and railroad ties. Rhizobial root nodules allow trees to "fix" atmospheric nitrogen into plant usable form. Black locust flowers are used in honey production. Locust borers allow heartrot fungi to enter trunks and the resultant fungal bodies are often used as 'artist conks'. Black locust is excellent firewood.
Robinia: after Jean Robin, French Herbalist / pseudoacacia: false acacia, Greek "akakia" (the Egyptian thorn-tree) and "akis" (thorn)
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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.