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Nature Notebook – Honey Locust

Honey locust trees, found only in the southernmost part of Michigan, are not the friend of someone looking for a nice tree to rest against. The specimen in the photo, found in Buchanan, MI, has 1-4” thorn clusters all along the trunk, a defense used to deter wildlife from nibbling on it.

While it may prevent a human from resting on it, animals such as deer, squirrels and bobwhite will eat the leaves and fruit. The fruit, a 8-18” pod is filled with sweet pulp between the numerous oval seeds.

Honey locust is named so due to the sweet, sticky pulp it produces. Native Americans used the pulp as a sweetening agent and used the wood to create bows for hunting.

The wood of honey locust is strong, coarse-grained and is today used for railroad ties, fence posts, furniture and shipping pallets. Even the thorns have been used to create pins, spear points and animal traps.