Gleditsia triacanthos

Leaves: Deciduous. 20-30 leaflets with blunt points grow along one leaf stem (petiole). Each leaflet is narrow and oblong, but broadest towards the base and is about ⅓” long. Leaf edges are not quite smooth, but have very light serrations. The entire compound leaf is 6-8” long. Bright green color. Fall leaves are a yellow color and one of the first to change in September.

Bark/Twigs: Bark forms long panels with slightly curled edges. Smooth reddish-brown bark on younger branches. Older bark becomes gray brown to nearly black with vertical ridges and deep furrows. Sometimes thorns appear, but most nursery varieties are thornless.

Flowers/Fruit: Green to brown flowers hang down in 2” long clusters resembling furry caterpillars. Blooms late spring or early summer (May to June). Dioecious- species has both male and female trees. Long, brown seed pods 12-18” long, 1” wide, persist through the winter.

Mature size and shape: Large. 30-70’h by about the same width but varies greatly. Open spreading crown shape that provides filtered light shade.

General information/special features: Plant in full sun. Adapts quite readily to extremes in soil conditions.

Landscape use and Maintenance: Good shade tree with filtered light so grass can still grow underneath. Very hardy and drought tolerant. Also tolerant of salty soils. A tough tree for urban conditions including along streets. Fast growing rate. Average to high maintenance. Leaves are really small which can be good in lawn areas, but challenging in pavers and patios. Easy to transplant.

USDA Hardiness Zone:  3-9

Family/Origin: Fabaceae – Legume. Native to most of the eastern U.S.

Campus use: Extremely common. Can be found east of the Bookstore (Bld 67) and south of Union Building (Bld 53).