Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Black Locust in Bloom

If you see a tree with deeply furrowed bark,
leaves with lots of leaflets, and gobs of white flowers this time of year, chances are it's a black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). It's also called yellow locust because its inner wood is distinctively yellow.
Though native more specifically to the Appalachian Mountains, black locust is common here in town. The wood's resistance to decay made it popular for use as fence posts, and it makes great firewood, burning hot and clean.
A particularly statuesque specimen can be found in Princeton on Hamilton Ave. near Harrison St, with four trunks cabled together. A fly-by-night tree cutter tried to convince the owner to cut it down, but fortunately the owner wasn't swayed.
My first encounter with black locust was in Ann Arbor, MI, at the home of Dr. Duff, who studied the effects of radiation on survivors of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War 2. His home was filled with Japanese art, and a bamboo fountain decorated the garden. The grove of black locust fit right in as a backdrop, their dark, gnarled limbs contrasting with light green leaves.

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