Black Locust vs Honey Locust: 8 Major Differences

Honey locust and black locust trees flourish in warm, sunny climates. It’s critical to understand the environment in which a particular tree has grown before selecting the wood.

The weather and other environmental factors that the black locust and honey locust trees have grown in have a significant impact on their nature. Both of these trees are known to thrive in sunny climates.

As we look at black locust vs honey locust, let’s talk a little about these trees individually.

What is a black locust tree?

Black Locust Tree

Native to the Southeast of the United States, black locust trees can reach heights of 60 to 80 feet. The tree’s scientific name is Robinia pseudoacacia. The tree doesn’t have any thorns sticking out of its trunks, despite having tough bark.

The bark is relatively dark brown in color and has grooves that give it the appearance that a thick rope has been knotted around it. Simple compound leaves from the black locust tree hang from each limb. Its blossoms are noted to have a strong fragrance and are either white, lavender, or purple in color.

Smaller than those of the honey locust, the seed pods of a black locust can reach a length of 2 to 5 inches.

Asia, North America, South Africa, and Europe are just a few of the places in the world where the black locust can be found.

The Honey Locust Tree: What Is It?

Honey Locust Tree

In the central-eastern region, the honey locust tree, commonly known as the thorny locust (biological name: Gleditsia triacanthos), is a tree that is frequently cultivated. With a trunk diameter of roughly one meter, it can reach heights of 50 to 70 feet.

The honey locust tree’s bark ranges in color from gray to brown. The honey locust tree gets its name from its thorns, which appear to sprout from nowhere, as opposed to its grooves.

Older honey locust trees have bipinnately compound leaves, whereas the younger trees have feather-shaped pinnately compound leaves. A honey locust tree produces enormous seed pods that can reach a length of one foot (or 12 inches).

Black Locust vs Honey Locust: 8 Major Differences

In a tabular form, we will show you some of the distinctive differences between honey locusts and black locusts

Black Locust (Left), Honey Locust (Right)
s/nHoney LocustBlack Locust
1Variation in Toxicity in Honey LocustVariation in Toxicity in Black Locust
Wildlife and domestic livestock are very interested in the Honey Locust pods because the pulp of the legume has a sweet flavor.
Native Americans in North America used it for food, tea, and traditional medicine.
The dried pulp from Honey Locust pods was also utilized as a sweetener by Native Americans.
The seed pods are adored by white-tailed deer, hogs, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, and hogs, as well as by goats, sheep, and cattle.
The fragile spring sprouts and young tree bark are also attractive to browsers and grazers.
Honey Locust trees can be planted safely next to cattle enclosures and grazing areas, but Black Locust trees should never be planted there.
It’s most likely a Honey Locust, not a Black Locust if you notice animals devouring the pods and other tree pieces.
In contrast, both people and animals are poisoned by the pulp of ripe Black Locust pods.
All parts of the black locust are deadly, although the principal poison, robinin, is most concentrated in the bark and seeds.
Its qualities are comparable to those of ricin and abrin, and when consumed, it produces a number of worrisome symptoms.
These include –
·         Muscle weakness and horses who have eaten it may get laminitis
·         Rapid breathing
·         Dilated pupils
·         Colic and abdominal pain
·         Constipation and the diarrhea
The Black Locust’s bark and branches can occasionally draw horses, although it is harmful to them.
It is lethal to consume even 0.04% of one’s body weight in this plant.
Although Black Locust poisoning seldom results in human mortality, it can be very difficult to recover from.
2Invasiveness of Honey LocustInvasiveness of Black Locust
Although both locusts can be problematic trees that require proper management, the Black Locust is more invasive than the Honey Locust.
The issue is even worse if the Honey Locust trunks are chopped off since new ones will grow from the stump’s roots.
Although the Black Locust is an Illinois native, it is regarded as an invasive species throughout much of the Midwest, New England, and northern California.
It has been forbidden in Massachusetts because it turns grassland into a forest.
It is regarded as a weed in Australia and South Africa.
The Black Locust spreads widely by producing suckers and self-seeding.
It is currently the most common American tree in the world due to its popularity as an ornamental tree in Europe and other regions.
Black locust trees develop in dense colonies that restrict native plants of sunshine and nutrition while fixing nitrogen in the soil.
They dislike shade and prefer disturbed areas, dry, well-drained soils, and sunny areas.
Black locust sprouts can produce new growth by being bulldozed or cut, but once the trees have established themselves, they are difficult to get rid of.
3Pods of Honey LocustPods of Black Locust
Both trees’ pods are slender, smooth, and shiny, but the Honey Locusts are significantly bigger.
They can reach lengths of twelve to eighteen inches.
The honey locust seed pods typically contain twelve to fourteen seeds, and as they get older, they begin to spiral and curl.
The Honey Locust pods begin as bright lime green and change to a reddish-brown color in the fall.
They barely grow to a maximum length of two to four inches on the Black Locust.
The Black Locust has flat, pea-like pods that normally contain four to eight much smaller seeds than the Honey Locust.
The Black Locust has dark brown pods.
4The wood of Honey LocustThe wood of Black Locust
The wood of the Honey Locust does not irritate the skin or the eyes like that of the Black Locust.
Tyloses, which are growths on the xylem arteries of the heartwood, are abundant in the pores of Black Locust wood.
These are absent from honey locust pores.
Due to the Black Locust’s toxicity, its wood is resistant to many pests and illnesses and is therefore regarded as having a very long lifespan by woodworkers.
As a result, it is often used to make furniture, flooring, boats, and fence posts.
The color can occasionally be mistaken for honey locust wood and ranges from darker brown to pale, greenish-yellow.
In contrast to the warm red or orange tones of Honey Locust, Black Locust wood is a little tougher and heavier and has a more greenish-yellow color.
The sapwood of the latter has a pale-yellow color, while the heartwood is a medium to light reddish-brown.
Freshly cut Black Locust wood has an unpleasant odor, yet the odor disappears when it ages.
5Flowers of Honey LocustFlowers of Black Locust
The honey locust’s fragrant blossoms are adored by pollinating insects.
In late April, clusters of cream-colored flowers emerge at the base of the leaf axils.
Honey Locust flowers are much smaller and less beautiful than those of the Black Locust.
Though honey bees are drawn to the Black Locust’s blossoms, the honey output can differ greatly from one year to another.
The Black Locust blossoms put on a brilliant show.
The Black Locust’s flowers grow in massive clusters and have an overpowering scent mimicking orange blossom. They measure about two to two and a half centimeters in length and are white.
They start to appear in late April to early June, depending on the area.
There is a yellow speck on the upper petal.
Honey bees are drawn to the Black Locust’s blossoms.
6Leaves of The Honey LocustLeaves of the Black Locust
Earlier than the Black Locust, whose branches remain naked for a few more weeks, the Honey Locust’s leaves fill out in the late spring.
The young, tiny, bright green leaves of the honey locust progressively turn yellow.
The leaves of the Honey Locust are feathery and pinnately compound.
The leaflets are significantly wider than those of the Honey Locust, and they fold closed in the rain and at night.
The leaves of the honey locust have finely serrated borders and upper surfaces that are dark green.
The leaves of the Honey Locust are a lighter green than those of the Black Locust.
Honey locust leaves do not have a leaflet at the end of the leaf stem.
The Black Locust’s leaves are notably bigger, oval-shaped, and green with a blueish tint in comparison.
Those of the Black Locust are simple and compound.
Round leaves alternately cover the stems of the Black Locust.
Black locusts have leaflet leaves at the end of the leaf stem.
7Honey Locust: BarkBlack Locust: Bark
The Honey Locust has many sharp, four-inch thorns surrounding the base of the leaves and branches.
The Honey Locust’s thorns begin out green and soft, turn red as they harden, and eventually fade to an ash-gray color.
On mature trees, the Honey Locust’s reddish-brown or dark-gray bark is divided into small, precise scales.
Honey Locust’s bark is prickly and spiky.
The Black Locust has significantly fewer, shorter spines, mostly at the base.
The Black Locust’s bark develops many ridges and furrows throughout its length, feels slightly hairy, and turns a dark greyish brown.
Where the ridges meet, the bark can occasionally appear crisscrossed, creating diamond-shaped patterns.
Young trees may have white down that vanishes as they age, and the dark-colored bark frequently has a reddish-orange tinge.
The Black Locust has thorns that can grow up to two inches long and are venomous.
Despite the fact that being pricked does not result in poisoning, eating the bark can result in excruciating stomach agony and even death.
The thorns can cause painful scratches and are low enough to jab someone in the eye.
A horse will die if it consumes even half a pound of bark. The Black Locust’s bark is smooth.
8Habits of Growth and Height of Honey LocustHabits of Growth and Height of Black Locust
In addition to growing quickly, honey locusts have a lifespan of between 100 and 150 years.
They prefer warm, sunny locations and can withstand cold and drought.
Between fifty and seventy feet in height, the honey locust offers great summer shade.
It has an inverted vase-like upright arching habit.
Honey Locust is native from Pennsylvania to Nebraska, it is only found in the southeast of the country.
They are so pervasive, nevertheless, that these distinctions rarely matter.
The Honey Locust, which has a spreading habit, the Honey Locust’s leaves resembles ferns.
Honey locusts have a maximum width of more than 60 feet in Nebraska.
The Honey Locust is well-liked in landscaping and prefers slightly acidic soils.
Black locust trees grow incredibly quickly and can reach heights of fifty to one hundred feet.
They feature a thin crown and crooked, uneven branches.
Crows, who are a problem in their own right because they scare off other birds, eat their young, and ruin vegetable gardens, have been discovered to be drawn to black locusts.
In general, the Black Locust is more resilient than the Honey Locust and can flourish in less favorable conditions.
Black Locust often grows a little bit taller and narrower than Honey Locust.
The Black Locust is a tall, upright tree that ages to have a narrow crown that is scraggly.
The width of its canopy can increase to about twenty feet. It has been observed to reach heights of up to 117 feet under peculiar conditions.


Longer seedpods and more widely spaced, longer thorns set Honey Locusts apart from Black Locusts. The Black Locust’s flowers are huge, conspicuous white clusters, whereas the Honey Locust’s are creamy and inconsequential, and the bark of the two trees is also noticeably different in both color and shape.

While Black Locusts are toxic to both humans and animals, Honey Locusts are sweet-tasting and draw in wildlife and livestock. In permaculture design, honey locust and black locust trees can both be useful. even in tackling climate-related problems that have been caused by humans through the reclamation of lands. The placement of these trees, however, requires careful planning and consideration.

Black Locust vs Honey Locust: 8 Major Differences – FAQs

Are black locust thorns poisonous to humans?

Poisonous elements include the leaves, bark, flowers, and seed pods can be found in black locust thorns. The main toxin found in locust trees is robinine, while there are other compounds that appear to be poisonous as well.

What is black locust good for?

Black locusts are good trees for preventing erosion, reclaiming ground, and producing a hardy hardwood that grows very quickly. They provide benefits to wildlife, can be used to make fence posts and hardwood lumber, and in the spring, they bloom with very fragrant flowers.

What is honey locust good for?

The wood of the honey locust can be split quickly, can be finished with a high sheen, and is resilient when it comes into touch with the ground. For these reasons, honey locust wood has been used for fuel, furniture, tool handles, railroad ties, warehouse or shipping pallets, fence posts, and more.


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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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