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Honey Locust Trees

Honey locust is a fascinating tree and especially noticeable in fall after the somewhat lacey compound leaves fall off. Shiny dark brown seed pods, attractively curled and as long as 18inches, adorn the bare branches. Another feature of interest, when seen from afar, are the three-branched dangerous thorns that give rise to the second part of the scientific name – Gleditsia triacanthos – triacanthos means three spines. This tree has a long association with people. Industrious mountaineers and colonists made a mead like beer from the sticky sweet honey-like substance that surrounds the seeds. The pods and seeds are edible and often honey locust trees are planted near pastures to add mast for winter diets. Cows can’t digest the actual seeds so some cattlemen actually collect and grind the pods to make a high quality feed.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.