Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Honeylocusts in Autumn

I may have mentioned before that honey locust are one of my favorite trees. My affection for them stems partly from familiarity. As I was growing up, I could see a magnificent honeylocust tree out my bedroom window every day. Honey locusts are also common on my local patch in several groves. These honey locust groves provide some of the best birding, as it is relatively easy to spot birds among the small leaflets. In winter, the bare branches take a variety of gnarled forms, making them photogenic in even the bleakest of winter weather.

In autumn, the compound leaves turn a golden yellow before they fall. They are one of the first trees to turn, so that they are often bare by the time other trees are at their autumn peak.

Honey locusts are in the legume family (Fabaceae). In the fall, they produce curved seed pods, which hang from their branches. The distinctive pods are about 6-8 inches long and contain numerous seeds. I remember playing with these pods as a kid, but I am not sure whether I ever connected them with these marvelous trees.