1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Genus: Robinia L.
      1. Robinia pseudoacacia L.

        Black locust is a rapidly growing, deciduous tree that is native to North America. This member of the pea and bean family (Leguminosae) was first introduced to Europe from North America at the beginning of the 17th century. Its hanging clusters of scented, white flowers are a common sight in streets and parks in England in June and July. Black locust, especially in its many named cultivars, has become a much-loved ornamental in western European gardens. Its cultivars include pink-flowered and metallic, yellowish-green leafleted forms. Despite its popularity as an ornamental, it can become invasive due to its prolific seed production, and it also spreads aggressively by suckering from the roots.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    Black locust is a rapidly growing, deciduous tree that is native to North America. This member of the pea and bean family (Leguminosae) was first introduced to Europe from North America at the beginning of the 17th century. Its hanging clusters of scented, white flowers are a common sight in streets and parks in England in June and July. Black locust, especially in its many named cultivars, has become a much-loved ornamental in western European gardens. Its cultivars include pink-flowered and metallic, yellowish-green leafleted forms. Despite its popularity as an ornamental, it can become invasive due to its prolific seed production, and it also spreads aggressively by suckering from the roots.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Black locust is native to southeastern North America and has also been introduced to Britain and parts of Western Europe, as far north as the Netherlands. It is widely cultivated elsewhere and can become invasive.

    Description

    Overview:  Black locust is a tree up to 25 m high with a rounded crown and a trunk up to 1 m in diameter. Its grey-brown bark is rough and deeply furrowed. Black locust trees often produce suckers (shoots which come out of the ground some distance from the main trunk). The sucker shoots and young branches are usually armed with spines (formed from pairs of stipules, leaf-like structures on the base of the leaf, that become woody and sharp with age).

    Leaves: The leaves are pinnate (divided into a central axis bearing leaflets) with 3-11 pairs of oval leaflets and one extra terminal leaflet. At maturity the leaflets are almost hairless.

    Flowers: The scented flowers are 15-20 mm long. The calyx (outer whorl of floral organs) is reddish-purple, and the petals are white (the standard petal having a basal yellow blotch). The stalked flowers are clustered into showy, hanging racemes.

    Fruits: The fruits are linear-oblong, hairless pods, with the upper suture (margin) slightly winged, and there are 4-10 seeds per pod.

    Naming of the genus

    The genus Robinia was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in honour of the French botanist Jean Robin (1550-1662) and his son Vespasien Robin (1579-1662), royal gardeners to Henry IV of France. It was Vespasien who first planted a specimen of R. pseudoacacia in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 1601, and the species was introduced to England soon after. A specimen of R. pseudoacacia planted in 1762 is one of the oldest trees currently standing in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Threats and conservation

    Black locust is a common, widespread species and is not considered to be threatened.

    Uses

    Robinia pseudoacacia is cultivated widely as an ornamental. Numerous cultivars have been bred in Europe, including some elegant leaf and flower colour forms, and a number of hybrids exist. In France, trees are sometimes heavily infested with mistletoe ( Viscum album ), which is harvested for medicinal and decorative uses.

    In the 18th century, the decay-resistant wood of black locust was used for fence posts, floors and cart wheels. 

    The flowers are a nectar source for bees and yield a high quality honey, which is gathered in Europe and North America. The fragrant flowers are also used in perfumery.

    Black locust is also planted to control erosion and is used for soil enrichment (it is a nitrogen fixer, by means of bacteria inside special root nodules). 

    Known hazards

    Some parts of the plant are toxic, particularly the bark, and poisoning of humans and livestock has occasionally been reported. Buildings have been damaged as a result of large branches breaking off mature street trees. Its sharp thorns are also a hazard.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Saving seeds

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Five collections of Robinia pseudoacacia seeds are held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

    See Kew's Seed Information Database for further information on Robinia pseudoacacia seeds

    Cultivation

    Black locust can be propagated by seed, root cuttings or sucker shoots. Some pruning of the shoots of young specimen trees in winter strengthens the following year's growth and reduces wind damage of the somewhat brittle branches. To avoid the loss of main branches, older trees should be kept to a single leader until seven or eight metres high, so that a strong, straight trunk is formed.

    This species at Kew

    A specimen of black locust planted in 1762 can be seen growing adjacent to the wisteria arch and Secluded Garden, near Elizabeth Gate at Kew.

    Black locust ( Robinia pseudoacacia ) at Kew Gardens

    Pressed and dried specimens of Robinia pseudoacacia are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Specimens of the wood and bark of black locust are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Kew's 'Old Lions'

    Kew's 'Old Lions' are some of the few remaining trees with the oldest actual known planting date of 1762. They comprise: Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree), Styphnolobium japonicum (pagoda tree) and Platanus orientalis (oriental plane) to the west of the Princess of Wales Conservatory; Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) on the lawn to the front of the Orangery; and Zelkova carpinifolia (Caucasian elm) situated in the Herbarium paddock.

    Some of these trees were brought from a neighbouring estate at Whitton which belonged to the Duke of Argyll (the uncle of Lord Bute, the botanical advisor to Princess Augusta). They became part of a new five-acre arboretum, laid out by William Aiton, which sat next to the Orangery.

    Now, 250 years after these trees were planted, Kew is celebrating the 'Old Lions', which can be seen in all their splendour, still growing in the Gardens.

    Distribution
    USA
    Ecology
    Dry, sandy and rocky habitats; scrub and woodland margins and roadsides; widely cultivated as an ornamental tree in streets and parks.
    Conservation
    Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    See below.

    [ILDIS]

    International Legume Database and Information Service

    Conservation
    Not Threatened
    Habit
    Perennial, Not climbing, Tree
    Vernacular
    Acacia, Acacia Bastarda, Acacia Blanc, Acacia Blanca, Akatziyai Safed, Ay Akasia, Belaya Akatziya, Bila Akatziya, Black Locust, Eklis Khe, Falsche Akazie, False Acacia, False-acacia, Grochodrzew Bialy, Lzheakatziya, Rabiniya Lzheakatzyya, Robinia-akacia,
    [KSP]
    Use
    Ornamental, timber, soil enrichment, bee forage for honey production, perfume.
    [ILDIS]
    Use
    Chemical products, Domestic, Environmental, Food and Drink, Forage, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Wood

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont

    Introduced into:

    Albania, Algeria, Argentina Northeast, Austria, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Central European Rus, Chile Central, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Colorado, Czechoslovakia, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, Easter Is., France, Free State, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Inner Mongolia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Kriti, Krym, Kuril Is., KwaZulu-Natal, Libya, Madeira, Manchuria, Mexico Northwest, Morocco, Netherlands, New Mexico, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, North Caucasus, Northern Provinces, Pakistan, Palestine, Primorye, Qinghai, Romania, Réunion, Sakhalin, Sardegna, Sicilia, South European Russi, Spain, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Taiwan, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, Xinjiang, Yugoslavia

    Common Names

    English
    Black locust

    Robinia pseudoacacia L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Verdcourt [5463] 29047.544
    Rico, L. [s.n.], France K000661619
    Pringle, C.G. [10218], Hidalgo Robinia pringlei K000478413

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 722 (1753)

    Accepted by

    • Gilman, A.V. (2015). New flora of Vermont Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 110: 1-614.
    • Ackerfield, J. (2015). Flora of Colorado: 1-818. BRIT Press.
    • Bailey, C. & al. (2015). Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee: 1-813. University of Tennessee press.
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
    • Garcillán, P.P. & al. (2013). Plantas no nativas naturalizadas de la península de Baja California, México Botanical Sciences 91: 461-475.
    • Dimopoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013). Vascular plants of Greece. An annotated checklist: 1-372. Botanic gardens and botanical museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic botanical society, Athens.
    • Allred, K.W. (2012). Flora Neomexicana, ed. 2, 1: 1-599. Range Science Herbarium, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
    • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2012). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
    • Bhellum, B.L. (2012). Flora exotica of Jammu and Kashmir (List- I) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45.
    • Vladimirov, V., Dane, F. & Kit Tan (2012). New floristic records in the Balkans: 20 Phytologia Balcanica 18: 333-373.
    • Verloove, F. (2011). Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Pterocarya fraxinifolia en andere opmerkelijke uitheemse rivierbegeleiders in België and Noordwest-Frankrijk Dumortiera 99: 1-10.
    • Authier, P. & Covillot, J. (2011). Catalogue actualisé des plantes de l'île de Rhodes (Grèce) Saussurea; Travaux de la Société Botanique de Genève 41: 131-170.
    • Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama: 1-112. Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
    • Greuter, W. & Raus, T. (eds.) (2010). Med-Checklist Notulae, 29 Willdenowia 40: 189-204.
    • Wu, Z. & Raven, P. (eds.) in Flora of China Editorial Committee (2010). Flora of China 10: 1-642. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).
    • Dogignard, A. (2009). Contributions à la connaissance de la flore du Maroc et de l'Afrique du Nord. Nouvelle série. 2. La flore du Nord-Maroc Le Journal de Botanique de la Société Botanique de France 46-47: 1-136.
    • Zuloaga, F.O., Morrone, O. , Belgrano, M.J., Marticorena, C. & Marchesi, E. (eds.) (2008). Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Jones, R.L. (2005). Plant life of Kentucky. An illustrated guide to the vascular flora: 1-833. The universitry press of Kentucky.
    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003). Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist: 1-536. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Isely, D. (1998). Native and Naturalized Leguminosae (Fabaceae) of the United States: 1-1007. Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
    • Lee, W.T. (1996). Lineamenta Florae Koreae: 1-1688. Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok.
    • Yakovlev, G.P., Sytin, A.K. & Roskov, Y.R. (1996). Legumes of Northern Eurasia. A checklist: 1-724. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Zizka, G. (1991). Flowering plants of Easter island Palmarum Hortus Francofurtensis 3: 1-108.
    • Polhill, R.M. (1990). Flore des Mascareignes 80: 1-235. IRD Éditions, MSIRI, RBG-Kew, Paris.
    • Greuter, W., Burdet, H.M. & Long, G. (eds.) (1989). Med-checklist 4: 1-458. Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève.
    • Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R. & Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. Botany division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch.
    • Townsend, C.C. (1974). Flora of Iraq 3: 1-662. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.

    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • Veitch, N. C., Elliott, P. C., Kite, G. C. & Lewis, G. P. (2010). Flavonoid glycosides of the black locust tree, Robinia pseudoacacia (Leguminosae). Phytochemistry 71: 479–486.
    • Sternberg, G. & Wilson, J. (2004). Native Trees for North American Landscapes. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
    • Lavin, M. & Sousa M. (1995). Phylogenetic systematics and biogeography of the tribe Robinieae (Leguminosae). Systematic Botany Monographs 45: 1–165.
    • Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Hodder & Stoughton, London.
    • Isley, D. & Peabody, F. J. (1984). Robinia (Leguminosae: Papilionoideae). Castanea 49: 187–202.
    • Bean, W. J. (1980). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles, Volume IV (Ri-Z). John Murray, London.
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Gilman, A.V. (2015). New flora of Vermont Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 110: 1-614.
    • Ackerfield, J. (2015). Flora of Colorado: 1-818. BRIT Press.
    • Bailey, C. & al. (2015). Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee: 1-813. University of Tennessee press.
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
    • Garcillán, P.P. & al. (2013). Plantas no nativas naturalizadas de la península de Baja California, México Botanical Sciences 91: 461-475.
    • Dimopoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013). Vascular plants of Greece. An annotated checklist: 1-372. Botanic gardens and botanical museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic botanical society, Athens.
    • Allred, K.W. (2012). Flora Neomexicana, ed. 2, 1: 1-599. Range Science Herbarium, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
    • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2012). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
    • Bhellum, B.L. (2012). Flora exotica of Jammu and Kashmir (List- I) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45.
    • Authier, P. & Covillot, J. (2011). Catalogue actualisé des plantes de l'île de Rhodes (Grèce) Saussurea; Travaux de la Société Botanique de Genève 41: 131-170.
    • Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama: 1-112. Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
    • Greuter, W. & Raus, T. (eds.) (2010). Med-Checklist Notulae, 29 Willdenowia 40: 189-204.
    • Wu, Z. & Raven, P. (eds.) in Flora of China Editorial Committee (2010). Flora of China 10: 1-642. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).
    • Dogignard, A. (2009). Contributions à la connaissance de la flore du Maroc et de l'Afrique du Nord. Nouvelle série. 2. La flore du Nord-Maroc Le Journal de Botanique de la Société Botanique de France 46-47: 1-136.
    • Zuloaga, F.O., Morrone, O. , Belgrano, M.J., Marticorena, C. & Marchesi, E. (eds.) (2008). Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Iwatsuki, K., Boufford, D.E. & Ohba, H. (eds.) (2006). Flora of Japan IIb: 1-550. Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo.
    • Jones, R.L. (2005). Plant life of Kentucky. An illustrated guide to the vascular flora: 1-833. The universitry press of Kentucky.
    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003). Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist: 1-536. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Isely, D. (1998). Native and Naturalized Leguminosae (Fabaceae) of the United States: 1-1007. Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
    • Lee, W.T. (1996). Lineamenta Florae Koreae: 1-1688. Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok.
    • Yakovlev, G.P., Sytin, A.K. & Roskov, Y.R. (1996). Legumes of Northern Eurasia. A checklist: 1-724. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Zizka, G. (1991). Flowering plants of Easter island Palmarum Hortus Francofurtensis 3: 1-108.
    • Polhill, R.M. (1990). Flore des Mascareignes 80: 1-235. IRD Éditions, MSIRI, RBG-Kew, Paris.
    • Greuter, W., Burdet, H.M. & Long, G. (eds.) (1989). Med-checklist 4: 1-458. Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève.
    • Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R. & Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. Botany division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch.
    • Townsend, C.C. (1974). Flora of Iraq 3: 1-662. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.
    International Legume Database and Information Service
    • Roskov, Yu. R. (1997). Editing data for CD publication.
    • Stace, C. (1991). New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge Univ. Press
    • Isely, D. (1990). Leguminosae, Vascular Flora S. E. U. S. A. 3(2) 1-258
    • Polhill, R, M. (1990). Legumineuses. In: Flore des Mascareignes, Vol 80. J. Bosser et a
    • Barneby, R. C. (1989). Fabales. In: A. Cronquist et al. Intermountain Fl. 3B:1-20, 27-27
    • Rothmaler W. & al. (1988). Exkursionsflora fur die Gebiete der DDR und der BRD. Bd. 2.
    • Webb, C. J. et al. (1988). Flora of New Zealand Vol IV
    • Vassilczenko, I. T. (1987). In: Flora Partis Europaeae URSS, Vol. 6. Leningrad. (Rus)
    • Ambasta, S. P. (1986). The useful plants of India
    • Geideman, T. S. (1986). Opredelitel vysshikh rasteni Moldavskoi SSR, 3rd ed.
    • Chowdhery, H. J. & Wadhwa, B. M. (1984). Flora of Himachal Pradesh Vol. 1
    • Isely, D. & Peabody, F. J. (1984). Castanea 49(4) :187-202 Robinia (Leguminosae: Papillionoidea)
    • Polunin, O. & Stainton, A. (1984). Flowers of the Himalayas
    • Gontscharov, N. F. (1981). In: Flora Tadzhikskoi SSR, 2nd ed., Vol. 6. Leningrad. (Rus)
    • Ali, S. I. (1977). Papilion. In: Flora of West Pakistan, No 100.
    • Terrell, E. E. (1977). Checklist of Names for 3, 000 Vas. Pl... Agric. Handbook No. 505
    • Townsend, C. C. & Guest, E. (1974). Flora of Iraq. Vol. 3. Baghdad.
    • Balashev, L. L., Ed. (1970). Dictionary of useful plants in twenty european languages.
    • Bonnier G. & Layens G. (1970). Flore complete portative de la France de la Suisse et...
    • Heywood, V. H. & Ball, P. W. (1968). Leguminosae. In: Flora Europaea Vol. 2. ed. Tutin, T. G. et al.
    • Kiselevski A. I. (1967). Latino-russko-belorusski botanicheski slovar. Minsk. 160 p.
    • Turner, B. L. (1959). Univ. of Texas Press, Austin. 284 pp The Legumes of Texas
    • Visyulina, O. D. (1954). Leguminosae. In: Flora URSR, Vol. 6. Kiev. (Ukr)
    • Grossheim, A. A. (1952). Flora Kavkaza, Vol. 5. Moscow, Leningrad. (Rus)
    • Gorschkova, S. G. (1941). In: Flora URSS, Vol. 11. Mosqua, Leningrad. (Rus)

    Sources

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    International Legume Database and Information Service
    International Legume Database and Information Service (ILDIS) V10.39 Nov 2011
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Legumes of the World Online
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/