Gleditsia triacanthos
Common name: 
gle-DITS-ee-a tri-a-KAN-thos
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf deciduous tree, to about 70 ft (~20 m) tall, open, spreading crown, usually with stout simple or branched spines (thorns) 6-10 cm long on the trunk and branches.  Stems shining, smooth, and reddish to greenish-brown, distinctive zigzag form with enlarged nodes (appear as spur shoots); no terminal winter bud, about 5 small lateral buds at a node, more or distinct, some hidden below the bark.  Leaves alternate, pinnately or bipinnately compound, 15-20 cm long, pubescent rachis, 20-30 leaflets, oblong-lanceolate, 2-3.5 cm long, margin remotely serrulate.  Flowers short stalked, greenish-white, in narrow clusters (racemes) 5-7 cm long.  Fruit are brown pods, 30-45 cm long often sickle-shaped and twisted, many seeded, remain on the tree into winter.
  • Sun.  Readily transplanted.  Withstands a wide range of conditions, i.e., drought, high pH, salt.  A good desert tree, but develops best on rich, moist bottomlands, or on soil of limestone origin.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone (3)4    Native range from southwestern Ontario, Pennsylvania to Nebraska, south to Florida and Mississippi.  Not as commonly planted in parks, along streets or in residential landscapes then the "thornless" forms, i.e., Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis, Thornless Honeylocust (see for additional images).
  • Gleditsia: after German botanist Gottlieb Gleditsch;   triacanthos: 3-spined.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • leafy shoot

    leafy shoot

  • emerging flower cluster

    emerging flower cluster

  • leaf and fruit

    leaf and fruit

  • thorns on branches

    thorns on branches

  • thorns on trunk

    thorns on trunk