Sunburst Honey Locust

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Suncole'

There are three Sunburst honey locusts in the Park, one each in the northwest, east, and northeast triangles. See Wikipedia entry here.
The honey locust is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America. It is mostly found in the moist soil of river valleys ranging from southeastern South Dakota to New Orleans and central Texas, and as far east as eastern Pennsylvania.
Sunburst honey locust in northwest triangle
Honey locust factoids:
  • The species name triacanthos derives from the fact that most honey locusts have thorns (acanthos) in groups of three or more (tri) running up the trunk and branches. Thornless varieties like ours are available. There are several heavily-thorned cultivars on the south side of the 1500 block of Spring Garden Street.
  • The term honey in the common name derives from the sweet tasting seed pods. These pea-like pods are eaten by animals and were used as sweeteners in Native American foods.
  • The Sunburst honey locust is a deciduous tree, with compound leaves (multiple leaves on one stem) that turn bright yellow in autumn.
  • These trees have a fairly open canopy, unlike the maples for example.
  • They are "polygamodioecious" trees. This means that each honeylocust tree has either male or female flowers, but each tree also produces some "perfect" flowers that have both male and female parts. 
    "Podless" honeylocust trees selected and marketed by nurseries are male trees that tend to produce few perfect flowers. Out Sunburst hybrids are both thornless and podless. See page on red maples for more on tree reproduction organs.
Speading branches of the sunburst honey locust in east triangle
Sunburst honey locust in northeast triangle
Photo of the trunk of the honey locust in the east triangle on April 16
On the right are stalks of male flower buds prior to opening. The seedpods from honey locusts can get messy after they fall, so many cultivars are male and therefore seedless.
The honey locusts are special favorites of the lichen. All three trees in the Park have a nice dispay of lichen.
Photo on 5/20/2020 showing the cluster of flowers coming right out of the trunk of the honey locust in the eastern triangle. The whole tree takes on a yellow tint with thousands of yellow flowers and young light-green leaves.
If you want to see some large honey locusts with their seed pods, head into the courtyard behind NxNW Towers in early November. The photos below show the pods on the ground and with seeds removed.

Matthias Baldwin Park 

423 N 19th St 

Philadelphia, PA 19130

Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to preserve the Matthias Baldwin Park

© 2018 Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park