Friday, January 23, 2009

Black Locust

It felt like spring today. It wasn't just me, the chickadees and titmice sounded like they thought spring was in the air. The trees are not fooled, however, and cold weather is coming back tonight, or so the National Weather Service thinks. Here's a tender spring bud growing in a black locust thorn axil. (An April photo, not a January thaw event.)

Here's the reason our ridge top is dominated by black locust--it spreads by stout runners just under or on top of the ground.


Marvin said...

Here in the Ozarks, black locust is just part of the hardwood mix, but its thornier cousin, honey locust, would take the place if given a chance. I've been amazed at how far it's runners extend from the parent tree.

Larry said...

Here in Hannibal, MO, black locusts are common in the many ravines with which this hilly town is well-supplied. I think they may be native here, as Mark Twain wrote of the odor of the tree's blossoms -- a memory of his childhood here.

In many Northern Missouri counties the tree was introduced during the Great Depression. It'll grow anywhere, even on subsoil.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Larry, I've read that black locust is native only to the Alleghenies (of which Droop Mountain is part) but that the tree followed Europeans west (and every other direction) because it does well in disturbed areas.

Marvin, I grew up in honey locust territory, and I think it's thorns are quite spectacular. If we have any here, it's not common.

Larry said...

According to what I've read, Rebecca, black locust has a disjunctive population, with outlying native regions ranging throughout southern Missouri and Arkansas and as far west as eastern Oklahoma. Admittedly it's difficult to determine if a species like the black locust is native to a particular area, as it puts down roots so easily. Early settler's accounts are useful.

A similar situation exists with osage orange, which also adapts well to new areas. You'd swear it's a native species here in Northern Missoiri, but it most likely isn't.