Thornless Honeylocust

Scientific Name: Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis
Genus: Gleditsia
Family: Fabaceae

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The honeylocust is a native tree in the pea family that can grow to be 75 feet tall. The flowers are small and fragrant and the fruits are long, flat pods that spiral and turn brown as they age. The seeds inside the pods look like beans and can actually be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

The trunk and lower branches of the wild honeylocust are covered with sharp, thick thorns, but most buyers purchase a thornless variety sold under the name Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis (“inermis” means unarmed). Interestingly, most of the trees sold as “thornless honeylocusts” are not bred from any separate stock of plants. Instead, the growers take cuttings from the upper, thornless branches of regular honeylocusts and these cuttings produce thornless trees.