Locust trees are made up of the genus Robinia & Gleditsia, which are part of the Fabaceae family, which is the Pea family. They are rapid-growing, deciduous trees. Locust trees are native to the central and eastern United States but have been naturalized in parts of the Pacific northwest and parts of Europe as well. The Black Locust has a showy white bloom that flowers in spring or summer that turns into brown seed pods. These seed pods attract all forms of wildlife ranging from squirrel, turkey, and deer in the south to elk and chipmunk in the north.
The wood of the Black Locust carries a natural resistance to rot and is commonly used for fence posts or railing but historically was used in shipbuilding. Beekeepers find locust trees especially attractive due to the delectable honey that is created from its flowers. The pulp of honey locust trees has a sweet taste and Native Americans once used it as a source of food and the wood can be used to make biofuel. As nitrogen fixing plants, they create their own nitrogen, removing the need to use chemical fertilizer.
Flowers from locust trees are usually white or pink. Locust trees are affected by canker, leaf spot, and powdery mildew which are all easily controlled with routine fungicide applications. They grow best in a soil pH of 6.0 – 7.0 and in USDA zones 4 – 10. Willis Orchards offers various sizes in the following varieties: Black Locust, Golden Locust, Honey Locust, Purple Robe Locust, and Ruby Lace Locust.