Black locust trees : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Hi folks, I am looking for some black locust trees,bare root if possible. Can't seem to find any around here (North West Florida). I've heard that they are good for fence posts,firewood, and quick shade. Any ideas where I could buy some? Thanks, Daryll

-- Daryll (, June 29, 2001


Daryll, you are a little too far south for Black Locust. They are an upland species. They occur naturally down about as far as the Tennessee Valley. Perhaps you could try honey locust, they can grow in warmer climates and lower altitudes. You can start them from seeds from the large pods the trees drop each winter.

By the way, if you have never worked with locust posts you should know a couple things about them. First, they are heavy as lead and hard as stone. Second, they are crooked as a dog's hind leg. On the good side, they are very rotproof. And also they are very hard to burn. Crossties have that weakness; big sections of locust make good strong, fireproof corner posts.

A trick to fencing with locust posts is to use short, heavy staples and a 22 oz framing hammer to drive them in. Locust is so hard that long staples bend over before they go in far enough to clamp the wire.

Finally, one more caveatt about locust: locust posts, because they come from upland slopes are usually covered with poison oak. Locusts are leguminous and they are dreadfully companionable with poison oak.

-- Rags in Alabama (, June 30, 2001.

Hi Rags, I've heard that the leaves are high in protein and make a good fodder,ever hear of that? What is the difference in black and honey locust? Daryll

-- Daryll (, June 30, 2001.

Daryll, locusts have fronds of tiny leaves similar to mimosa so livestock can't really eat the leaves--they are too small. The edible part is the seed pods which fall in profusion all winter. These are indeed edible, in fact, many human food products contain "locust bean gum" as an additive.

Black locust is a smaller, crookeder tree with rough bark and small thorns. Honey locust is larger, smooth barked, has the edible pods, and has thorns that have to be seen to be believed--they can puncture a tractor tire.

-- Rags (, July 01, 2001.

I read about honey locust doing better in hotter climates. Maybe so, but around Sacramento, CA, they grow like weeds. 90 and 100 degree weather doesn't seem to bother them too much here.

They are quick growers, surprisingly for the hardness of the wood.

Rot resistant too. Eric Sloane, in his book A Reverence for Wood discusses their use as fence posts -- says they can last 50 years in the ground.

An old joke about locust fence posts is, "They'll last two generations; I know; I seen 'em."

-- Michael R Blair (, November 12, 2001.

I have 70 acres here in S.E. Iowa and I have more honey locust growing than I can kill. If I cut the tree, the roots from that tree sprout new trees. I hate honey locust trees for that reason. Guess I should start a fence post business.

-- Scott (, April 06, 2002.

Hi, I have a black locust tree in my yard in NW Iowa. In the fall I pick up at least 6 large leaf bags full of beans each weekend. I moved here in 1996. There were no beans on trees at all till the year 2000. What a suprise. Dont know if they have pods each year or why there was none for 4 years. someone told me in the drier years there are more bean pods. This tree is close to 75 years old. I would be happy to send you some seeeds.

-- peg (, July 07, 2002.

Hi, You are welcome to all the Black Locust trees you can cut!!! They are a royal pain (litterly) They are fast growing and remind me of weeds! I am wondering myself now why they are all turning brown. Anyone have any answers?

-- Kaye Rash (, July 29, 2002.

I live 22 miles from the Michigan border in Wisconsin and have many many Many Black Locust trees in my yard. They seem to do very well in the winter, loosing little, if any branches. Ill never forget the first year we moved in and saw what we thought were dead trees, they get their leaves very late in spring and the first year they bloomed the aroma almost made me sick, it was so sweet. I have seeds if anyone is interested, but a word a caution,keep the branches picked up, you don't want to step on them barefooted, it'll sting all day!!!

-- renie (, July 31, 2002.

Make sure your posts are aged and dried out well. Green Black Locust posts will root and grow trees. I don't know if this is true for Honey Locust or not. Green Black Locust? Just what color would that be?

-- John in S. IN (, August 01, 2002.

Daryll, come to my place and I will gladly give you mine. I've never seen trees like these things. Mine send roots out 50 - 60 feet and new trees continually sprout. One of the trees has sent a root under my house. God only knows what is going to happen there. I think these things will grow anywhere.

-- C. Roberts (, August 17, 2002.

Black (Yellow) Locust grows well in upstate NY as well. In addition to all the comments above, all of which I agree with, the wood itself in interesting to work with. It is a very hard and dense wood but makes beautiful objects if one is willing to take the extra time to keep sharpening tools. It's tough to shape but it looks real nice.

Two points of interest:

The green color of the wood will turn to a nice pecan color as it is exposed to light.

The green wood will flouresce under a black light. After the wood has turned to the pecan color, there's not much flourescence, but if the color is sanded or cut back to the green again, then the flourescence will again be visible. Of course, that's until the fresh surface turns to pecan, and so on.

-- Dave (, August 26, 2002.

We live in France and these dang black locust send shoots up all over the yard, kill the grass, block the sunlight and even stuff up the mower. Anyone who finds a use for these trees are welcome to have mine!

-- Elias Burr Nyberg (, September 28, 2002.

I have planted some black locust from a nurserie. They gre really fast this first year. About four feet. I think they are pretty nice trees. I was told they make nice yard trees. I have nine acres so I planted them far away for wildlife cover. They seem to work good for that. I would be interested in seeds and howe to plant the seeds if someone has them. Also any other tree seeds. I enjoy planting them for habitat Best wishes Robb

-- robb (, October 08, 2002.

I hope you all can help. First of all we have honey locust in the front part of our land ( yes they are coming down one at a time) you can not rap your arms arond the trees. That's how big they are. We keep the thorns of as high as we can. And yes they will kill your John Deer tires! They do how ever make great fire wood. We have 5 acres of woods that was cleared about 3 years ago. Just enought where they were going to build. That never happen and we now own it. Anyway after reading these post you all are saying black locust have thorns? We have black locust by the house and some in the woods, with no thorns. We have about 1,000 or more trees all over with thorns on them. I am clearing them out, these are honey locust right? I have never seen a black locust with thorns. Hope you all can help.

-- Suzie Freeze (, October 12, 2002.

I surf the net and don't read all the stuff I call myself a speed reader. So I aplogize if I'm in the wrong page here but I need HELP! I bought a Globe Locust tree 8 feet tall and wonder if anyone out there could tell me anything about the tree. Ex. how tall will it get? I don't know what it is grafted to or if it is even graft to anything. How big will the globe become and perhaps it's root system structure. Is it a tap, wandering root, deep root low root? Any and all help will be most appreciated! I'm in the Michigan zone 5 or 6 I belive and I need to plant it NOW as the season is moving on. HELP!

-- Sam Cramblet (, October 20, 2002.



Hi.. I have 4 Locast trees in my back yard. I find them very messy in the fall of the year. The leaves are very small and get into the rain gutters. The black pods that drop in the fall and winter months are really a mess to clean out of the gutters. If anyone knows of a way to keep these trees from dropping black pods, please let me know your secret. We live in Northern Ohio near Lake Erie

-- Thomas (, December 09, 2002.

I am from Ontario Canada near London. We have several dozen Black Locusts in the back yard. The closest is about 60 feet from our shallow well. Roots from the trees are invading our well with thousands of fibrous roots. I am assuming it is only the closer trees. Does anyone know how far these roots will travel? Will cutting the tree(s) down stop this?

-- Ron (, December 28, 2002.

Hi - I am from SW Arkansas. We have a large farm COVERED with Black Locust trees. Or at least I thought they were Black Locust until I read some of these posts. You say they puncture tires OOOOHHHH yea! quicker than a 10- penny nail! but according to descriptions it sounds like honey locust except they are not quite as big around as described? I am confused as to whether they are Black Locust or Honey Locust. they have very large purple thorns and grow Millions at a time! and I literally bet millions wouldn't touch a 40 acre lot! If you cut one about 10-20 more are growing off the same root. What can you spray to kill the root once you have gotten rid of the tree? We are having to cut the trees with clippers ( a long project!) hall the trees off and burn them just so we can begin by keeping it bush hogged. How do we get rid of them!?

-- Amanda (, April 15, 2003.

Here in central Illinois we have a ton of Honey Locusts. Anyone remotely interested can come and take them away. Their thorns have already punctured a tire on our Kubota tractor. I'm looking for ways to kill them or even safely trim them. My husband came back from cutting down some branches looking like a pin cushion!

-- Julie H. (, April 16, 2003.

I have one in my backyard. (St. Louis, MO) The flowers are impressive in their fragrance and extent.

I would not doubt that Black Locust would survive in Florida - it likes a 'calcarous' (calcium, ie limestone) soil, but have read it needs well drained soil.

Yes it is indeed fast growing. When planted commercially it does not require weed control as it OUTGROWS THE WEEDS!

Some reports say it's germination is low. If treated 50 minutes with Sulphuric Acid the germination rate is high. (I think the seed hull is very hard.)

Don't laugh about the comment that a green Black Locust fence post will sprout. I have witnessed it - as a kid I had to keep 'pruning' it until the fence was replaced!!

There are many comment about crooked trunks - but some grow very straight. (One of it's unscientific names is "Shipmast Locust" - ever see a crooked shipmast?)

I greatly admire the Black Locust wood - makes a gorgeous floor.

-- Paul Spencer (, April 24, 2003.

The posts helped a lot. I have recently become a small farm owner, and have to fence in upto 20 acres. I have been told black locust makes the best fencing. If anyone is within a days drive to maryland and wants to get ride of some trees, give me an email. They should be at least 7.5 ft tall and more than 6 inches round for them to be useful to me. Thanks


-- Adam Cohen (, July 02, 2003.

I lived in central Mississippi a few years back and had a stand of "fence posts" (black locust) straight as an arrow and near impossible to cut. I was told they would wear out a post hole. Locals used to find an abandoned oil well, pull up the hole and cut it off to make another post hole. So they say. I occasionally would find someone poaching my trees since they had monetary value due to the straightness.

Now I live in central New Mexico near the river and would like to plant trees that make sense in the long run. I already have a couple hundred fruit trees, commercial vegetable gardens, and about an acre that's unused. The extension service suggested honey locust, but after reading these stories, I'm not so sure. Think I'll keep looking.

-- Dan (, July 09, 2003.

This answer is primarily directed to Dan, who lives in New Mexico, and is thinking of planting some acreage in Honey/Black Locust. Take a deep breath and do a lot more thinking! Then come back and read these posts again...

I have a Honey Locust in my side yard. True, it makes a gorgeous shade tree; spreading leafy branches rather like a Mimosa, but what the others have said about the KILLER THORNS is true, and the pods need to be raked every day, once they start to fall and that goes on almost 'til Thanksgiving, I swear. If you don't rake them up, they sprout everywhere they fall. The upper limbs tend to die off; once they get brittle, they break easily in a windstorm. More to clean up!

Now that I've read some of the posts regarding the roots going under foundations, etc, I'm wondering how long it will be 'til my small rancher is lifted right out of the ground. I live in an area with a high water table, so maybe the major roots just go straight down to the easy water source. We don't seem to have a problem with big roots growing at the surface with this Honey Locust, as others have indicated, so I guess that's something to be grateful for. It does give lovely shade, as long as you beware the thorns!

-- Rose O'Donnell (, July 17, 2003.

Black Locust is very easy to come by. Try the forestry service in just about any state. These trees are phenomenal. No other hardwood grows this fast. In addition, the thorns on the Black Locust are only on the smaller branches/trunk. Once the trunk gets over about 4-5 inches, the thorns disappear. For those of you who don't like these trees, about the only way I've seen to get rid of them is to get goats. I thought these trees were invincible until I penned in some goats around them. Black Locust is one of their favorite foods. They eat the smaller branches, thorns and all. And they will bark the smaller trees. However, once the goats are removed, the new sprouts will be free to grow unhindered again.

-- Mitch Holmes (, August 14, 2003.

Hi there, I have recently been making walking sticks out of black locust. They are very strong and durable, even the smaller sticks are tough. I am wondering if anyone else is into the same thing and has any suggestions on technique and also what other types of wood make good walking sticks. I live in southern Indiana so I have a lot of different hardwoods to choose from. Thanks

-- Farland (, December 10, 2003.

We probably have over 200 of either Black or Honey Locusts on our small farm. They are a real pain...literally! We are trying to cut and burn them. My husband recently had what I thought was a spider bite, but an old farmer from the are said it was from the black locust trees we were cutting down. It was about a 2" diameter, raised,and reddish welt with a small puncture in the middle. Does anyone know for sure if they are poisonous?

-- Judi (, April 12, 2004.

My boyfriend said he had this happen to him in the past. He had a raised spot on his arm. He had to go to the doctor and get a shot and some anti-biotic pills. In fact he has been cutting a lot of wood lately and had it happen to him again. This time in the hand and it was hard to grip. Flet like a broken hand. But he believes now it was another locust splinter.

-- Sarina Will (, April 12, 2004.

I cannot imagine wanting a locust tree. I've been around them pretty much all my life and believe me the thornes are killers and the roots are hidious. If any one can tell me how to get rid of them, I'd really appreciate it

-- Judy Wyttenbach (, May 11, 2004.

I am trying to locate stands of the shipmast or "old fashioned" locust. The shipmast variety will be obvious from its growth habit- mostly straight with some curvature, deep furrowed bark, very little branching and often none in the first 30-40 ft.. These trees also produce very few viable seeds. Some are known to grow 90 ft. or more and can live beyond 180 years. Anyone having information on locations of stands can reach me at this email or call (509)997- 4766. I would be interested in taking small amounts of root cuttings during the dormant period. These trees will look vastly different from a common black locust because the common locusts branch low and produce thousands of viable seeds most years. Thanks!

-- Tim Odell (, May 20, 2004.

I have two black locust trees here in Austin, Texas. I cut them from a mother plant when they were just lil baby suckers. Now, four years later, they are easily 40 feet high and shading my second floor balcony. That's impressive for central Texas. They sucker a little, but not too much. Just enough to give baby trees to friends a few times a year. I like the dappled shade, not thick, dense shade, from the tiny leaves and willowy branches.

-- Aisha (, May 26, 2004.

this has been a great learinig tool. i bought 50 a few years ago. i needed some fence this year and a local fellow was selling posts for $2 for 6' and $4 for 8'. a friend with some farming experience said he moved some posts when he was a teen for local farmer that were over 100 years old then. he recommended i try the locust posts. the pressure treated posts at the local store are only rated for 15-20 years of life. a few days ago my girlfriend wanted some big bushes taken down in her back yard. she said they had terrible thorns on them. well they were sprouts from the 50' plus locust on her back lot line. the trees never gave lots of seed pods that she remembers. i am looking for something to plant along my south lot line that is open to the farmer next to me. i took a few cuttings the other day. i found this discussion board and have read everything everybody is saying and decided if i put then out of the way and they grow good i will have a never ending supply of fence post and even sell a few if i end up with to many. thanks for the info.

-- jim f (, May 31, 2004.

Be careful with that one, jim. Those suckers can really spread fast in the right environment. You might just end up able to fence the whole town. I find that they make great walking sticks after the thorns are scraped off. I have made a few for my friends, and when they are sanded and finished, they look really nice. I have an abundance myself and I don't know what else to do with them either. , Farland

-- farland (, January 21, 2005.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ