Black Locust (Robinia Pseudoacacia)
It is hard to overstate the value of this species. They grow incredibly fast in just about any soil that is not waterlogged. They fix their own nitrogen, and share it with surrounding plants. Black locusts provide heavy nectar flows for pollinators. The flowers are edible and taste like peas. They also produce a remarkably dense rot resistant wood. The trees can be cut again and again, as they sprout back from the stump vigorously.
We interplant black locust with most of our nut trees and fill the hedgerows with them. They are a source of fence posts, building material, beauty, and free fertility. Despite all these qualities, the government of New York State requires that I inform you that:
Warning- Black locusts are invasive, they are harmful to the environment. The government requires that I provide a list of native alternatives. The truth is that there are no native alternatives because black locust is the only tree that grows around here that can produce a rot resistant wood, grow fast, and fix nitrogen out of the sky. If you know of any native alternatives that can provide the services that black locust do, please tell me about them. I would appreciate learning of such trees.
I do not believe black locusts are in any way harmful to the environment. They are excellent pioneers, creating perfect conditions for other hardwood trees to grow by improving the soil and providing a very light shade. I believe that the state's warnings are completely unfounded and truly a shame. In the days of a changing world, we need allies like black locust. We need trees that can grow without alot of fuss. Black locust can grow under any extreme soil and weather events. These trees feed pollinators, store carbon, replace pressure treated lumber, and support other hardwood species.
We offer black locusts grown from seed as well as improved timber types that are grown from root cuttings. These improved ones are clones from breeding programs at the USDA as well as from Hungary, where people have been breeding black locust for timber form for a long time. Some folks call improved locusts shipmast locust.