Honey Locust - Gleditsia triacanthos

Alternative names
Thorny Locust
Thorny Honeylocust

A deciduous tree reaching 20-30m in height and a 15m spread. It has an open habit, casting only a light shade beneath its canopy. The trunk is grey with elongated 'plates'. The leaves are pinnate, sometimes bipinnate on young trees, with leaflets 1.5-2.5cm in length. The foliage appears late, usually in May, and is bright yellow-green when it first appears, darkening as it matures, then turning yellow in autumn. Inconspicuous scented cream flowers can give rise to large, flattened seed pods 15-20cm in length but this is unusual in domesticated varieties.

The wild species (of North America) has impressive thorns 3-10(20)cm long growing in clusters on the branches but these have usually been bred out in garden varieties.

Identification difficulty
Recording advice

Unless identified by a recognised expert, a photo is required. If the photo doesn't show the key ID features then in the comments box describe the size and identifying characters you have observed.


This species is native to central North America where it is mostly found in the moist soil of river valleys. It is highly adaptable to other conditions however, and has been introduced worldwide. It is sometimes classed as an invasive species. Tolerance of pollution makes it an ideal tree for urban planting.

When to see it

All year.

Life History

A deciduous tree.

UK Status

This species appears to be rarely recorded in the UK.

VC55 Status

Rarely recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Species group:
Trees, Shrubs & Climbers
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
23/09/2019 (Gould, David)
Last record:
18/12/2021 (Nicholls, David)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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