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honey locust

honey locust, leguminous deciduous tree ( Gleditsia triacanthos ) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), native to the eastern half of the United States but planted as a shade tree in many regions of the United States and in other countries, where it is sometimes naturalized. It has heavily fragrant flowers attractive to bees, compound leaves made up of small leaflets, and large branching thorns. The pods, which usually twist with age, are brown, flat, about 12 to 18 in. (30.5–45.7 cm) long, and have a sweet, edible pulp that has been used to make beer. Pulp of Asian species has substituted for soap. Wood of the honey locust is durable and has been used chiefly for fence posts and crossties. A thornless variety is widely planted in the N United States as a street tree. Other trees called locust belong to the same family. The honey locust is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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