Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

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Common Name(s): Honey Locust

Scientific Name: Gleditsia triacanthos

Distribution: South-central and eastern United States

Tree Size: 65-80 ft (20-25 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 47 lbs/ft3 (755 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .60, .75

Janka Hardness: 1,580 lbf (7,030 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 14,700 lbf/in2 (101.4 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,630,000 lbf/in2 (11.24 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,500 lbf/in2 (51.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.2%, Tangential: 6.6%, Volumetric: 10.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.6

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a medium to light reddish brown. Wide sapwood is a light yellow, clearly distinguished from the heartwood. Very similar in appearance to Kentucky Coffeetree.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight or slightly irregular, with a medium uneven texture. Moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Ring-porous; 3-5 rows of large to very large earlywood pores, medium to small latewood pores commonly arranged in tangential bands; tyloses absent, other reddish heartwood deposits occasionally present; growth rings distinct; medium to wide rays visible without lens, wide spacing; parenchyma banded, parenchyma vasicentric, and latewood is commonly lozenge and confluent.

Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to durable; susceptible to insect attacks.

Workability: Honey Locust can be difficult to work with hand and machine tools on account of its density, though it generally produces good results. Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Honey Locust. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Not widely or commonly available, limited quantities of Honey Locust are sometimes available within its natural range. Prices are likely to be in the mid to upper range for a domestic hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, fence posts, utility lumber, and turned objects.

Comments: Somewhat similar in appearance to Black Locust, Honey Locust is technically in a different genus, (Robinia and Gleditsia, respectively), and telling the two apart is somewhat similar to separating White and Red Oak—the pores of Black Locust are packed with tyloses, while they are absent in the pores of Honey Locust. Honey Locust bears a much closer resemblance to Kentucky Coffeetree, which is similar both in color, grain, and anatomy. The latewood pores of Coffeetree tend to be in circular clusters, while they are usually arranged in tangential bands in Honey Locust, being connected by confluent parenchyma.

A related species, Water Locust (Gleditsia aquatica), grows in swamps in the southeast United States, and has similar wood properties and anatomy.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Mike Leigher for providing the wood sample of this wood species.

Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Honey Locust (sanded)

Honey Locust (sealed)
Honey Locust (sealed)

Honey Locust (endgrain)
Honey Locust (endgrain)

Honey Locust (endgrain 10x)
Honey Locust (endgrain 10x)
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Hello and thank you for having this site.
I did want to point out that honey locust trees are terminate and insect resistant (very) due to chemicals contained within the tree and in fact many places/countries are using it instead of where treated wood is used…

Igor' Olechnowicz

I’d say it has mild to strong odor when freshly cut. To me, it reminds soar wine or fruit vinegar.


Your description sounds more like black locust, possibly a thorned black locust. My honey locust smell like carrots but they’re as wet as peeled cucumbers where my chain debarks this early in spring.

Igor' Olechnowicz

I have black locust wood too (cut down by electricians on the street and shared with the neighbour). Now, after four and a half years, it smells completely different when resawed, though I did not try it when freshly cut. As per my honey locust, this little one was cut two-three years ago and lied neglected near my office all that time until I noticed, with some damage made by fungi. Though I first removed all discolourated parts, before resawing “good” portion, it is plausible that I am mistaken and this wine-like smell (belonging to “good” parts) arose because of… Read more »