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Honey Locust

November 24, 2018


I would like info on this tree. I have never seen anything like it. The tree has long thorns on the trunk. This tree was spotted during a walk along Hot Springs Creek in Hot Springs 

Picture of honey locust thorns


Wow, that is a lot of thorns for even a honey locust tree!  The tree in question is the native honey locust tree – Gleditsia triacanthos.  It has thorns on the trunk and the branches and they can be deadly.  The thorns grow from three to eight inches long and are often produced in clusters on the trunk.  It is not recommended for home landscapes for an obvious reason.  A thornless cultivar is on the market and does have great yellow fall color, without thorns.  In the past, the thorns have been used for nails, fish hooks, sewing needles and more, but use extreme caution trying to use them—they are sharp and tough..


(Aug. 2012)

QuestionI am hoping you can identify a tree by description without a picture. This tree has thorns on the truck and branches. We saw this in the wooded area just as you cross over the Two Rivers Bridge over the Arkansas River. I have never seen a tree of this size with thorns.


AnswerMy guess would be a honey locust - Gleditsia triacanthos. They have compound leaves with a lot of small leaflets on them, and the trunk and branches can have some deadly thorns. They can form a large shade tree, but the thorniness is the reason most home gardeners don’t want them in their yard. Plant breeders have bred a thornless variety which has good fall color and makes a good yard tree. A smaller tree that is native, and is covered in thorns is the Devil’s Walkingstick – Aralia spinosa.

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