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Thorny locust trees

Thorny locust trees
Posted by K. Ray from Kansas City on 2001-03-20 13:38:01

We just bought some land with trees that
have long thorns. (3-4 inches) I suppose
they are thorny locust. If we trim the
thorns off, will the thorns come back?
Also, do the thorns drop off?
  • They might be...
    Posted by Lia from ON on 2001-03-20 13:40:40

    'm definitely no botanist, but I think
    you need to wait until these trees leaf
    out &/or fruit or flower before deciding
    what they are. When they leaf out, take
    a few leaves to your local county
    cooperative extension service, or try a
    tree ID book from your local library.
    ... ... ... At this season, though, the
    shape of the tree or the branching habit
    also might give you a clue. Winter
    botany type books & tree ID books with
    winter (i.e. leafless) forms might also
    be available at your library or
    extension service. ... ... ... As for
    the spring or later clues : Tiny thin
    oval leaves -- probably honey locust.
    ... ... ... Spring flowers with a scent
    but not necessarily sweet in the rose
    sense, later orange or red berries --
    probably hawthorn. ... ... ... Hard
    small orange-like fruits later in the
    season -- probably Maclura pomifera,
    commonly called Osage orange, which I
    understand has been planted extensively
    and has somewhat naturalized even to the
    point of a sort of pest tree in the
    midwest. Whatever these trees are, won't
    you be putting yourself in for a LOT of
    unnecessary work trying to cut off a
    thousand thorns one by one? If thorns on
    lower trunks or lower branches pose a
    safety problem, you could trim just off
    those. ... ... ... Just me personally,
    I'd leave them alone and consider
    these trees a fantastic bird habitat.
    ... ... ... Put feeders & birdbaths
    nearby; plant "food" flowers like
    coreopsis, perennial sunflowers, and
    coneflowers; and add several of the
    larger ornamental grasses.
    • Me again...
      Posted by Lia from ON on 2001-03-20 15:23:19

      This was meant in reference to the
      question about thorny trees possibly
      being honey locust. In the meantime
      ANOTHER possibility just occurred to me.
      I'd have to go look this up, but I do
      believe there are also thorns on some
      species in the genus ROBINIA, commonly
      called just plain locusts, as opposed to
      the genus Gleditsia or honey locusts.
      • Honey Locust
        Posted by Jerry from St. Louis on 2001-03-20 15:25:36


        Those are honey locust. There's a
        similar cultivar w/o thorns that's
        common in suburban yards.

        Yes, you can cut the thorns off - they
        won't regenerate. But, no, they won't
        fall off.

        I've seen groves of these around KC. The
        outer suburban parks (Blue Springs,
        Grain Valley) are loaded with them along
        with osage orange/hedge apple.
        • more on honey locust thorns
          Posted by Jeff from oh on 2001-03-20 15:37:24

          A note about the thorns. I have 20+ of
          these trees around my yard. This is what
          I've learned.

          Go ahead and cut the thorns off all you
          wish. This will not harm the tree.

          Thorns do fall off on there own,
          however, only one or two at a time as
          they get old. This is not a sheadding
          like leaves in the fall.

          Pickup and burn the thorns after
          clearing off a tree. These sharp jabbers
          will slice through a riding mower tire
          like a hot knife through butter. They
          can also pierce the sole of most any
          shoe. (I've done this)

          In the spring patrol your trees looking
          for the above mensioned thorns that fall
          on there own. I say burn them as they
          brun quickly and it is the eaiest way to
          get rid of them. They go right through a
          plastic bag if you try to toss them.

          Finally in contrast to what Jerry said,
          they will regrow from the nodes on the
          trunk where you removed the old thorns.
          Although, not all my trees do this. The
          good part is that all you have to do is
          rub them off with your thumb while they
          are still green. While green they are
          quite pliable and soft. They only harden
          in mid summer.

          The last bit of trivia I have is that
          during the civil war the locus thorns
          were used as needles when steel needles
          were not available.

          Hope this helps.


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