Silvopasture and Agroforestry

Collecting Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust) seeds for propagation and experimentation

It is no secret that I love this tree species and all its applications on a permaculture-oriented farm. It shades the pasture but its small leaflets allow adequate light for grass growth, it fixes nitrogen into the soil from the atmosphere like all other legumes, abundant fruit crops that contain as much sugar as unimproved sugar beets, wind breaks, erosion prevention, decent quality lumber, etc.

While I want to propagate any suitable native species I can get my hands on like walnut, oak, hickory, etc., I missed my chance this year as I was overseas during the time when nuts were ripe. Honey Locust and Persimmon fruit persists through the winter so I am forced to focus my efforts on those two trees alone.

I had mapped 5 Honey Locust trees on the farm that reliably produce abundant crops every year. There are many more, but some are forest growth meaning competition for sunlight drives them vertical while open growth trees can spread horizontally. The later tend to have the largest concentration of seeds beneath them. In the last week I was able to collect viable seeds from three of the highlighted individuals. Variation is demonstrated below:

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One tree in particular has pods that are 12-18″ in length. I gathered as much as I could carry on one trip:

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Being late in the winter, some of the seeds were softened with rot, had mold in their seed chamber or bore small drill holes from weevils. Only the pristinely preserved and dried seeds were kept.

I have not counted, but I collected near 100 seeds from an armful of honey locust pods.

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Stay tuned for the soil recipe and seed starting experiments!

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5 thoughts on “Collecting Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust) seeds for propagation and experimentation

  1. Interesting! We planted two Honey Locusts about 15 years ago. Man, they’re fast growers for a hardwood specie. Probably not the best choice for a lawn tree, because they’re really messy, but perfect for a permaculture environment. 🙂

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    • For lawn applications, I’d definitely recommend one of the cultivated varieties that are thornless and/or colored uniquely. I didn’t mention in the benefits blurb that they also produce fragrant and beautiful flowers that can single handedly give bees a jump on storing winter food (or harvestable honey for a well established hive). The pods can be fermented into a beverage that resembles mead and the seeds can be roasted as a coffee substitute. It really is a great permaculture tree!

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  2. Pingback: Tree Germination experiment: Non-supersaturated pictures | thegreenergrassfarm

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