Gleditsia triacanthos L.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Widely introduced as a fast-growing tree for fuel and fodder and fence posts,
for ornament, shade and soil reclamation. The wood is said to be
coarse-grained, durable, hard, and resistant to soil decay. Hence it is used
for fence posts, railroad ties and tubs for wheels. South Africans sometimes
plant orchards of the tree for fodder. The gum from the seeds has been
suggested as an emulsifying substitute for acacia and tragacanth. Flowers very
attractive to bees. The pulp has always attracted the sweet tooth of animal
and man alike, when better sweets were not available. A potable or energy
alcohol can be made by fermenting the pulp. Seeds have been roasted and used
as a coffee substitute. Wood is hard, coarse grained, reddish-brown and takes
a high polish; the wood resists decay and makes good fence posts. Lumber is
used for various purposes, but the chief use is as an ornamental. The pods are
readily eaten by cattle, goats, deer, squirrel, rabbits, quail, and starlings
(Brown and Brown, 1972).
Sokoloff et al. (1964) note that recently, Soviet investigators have been
studying the biological factors present in the fruit and leaves of Gleditsia
triacanthos. The alcoholic extract of the fruits of the Kirgis honey
locust, after elimination of tannin, considerably retarded the growth, up to
63% of Ehrlich mouse carcinoma. However, the cytotoxicity of the extract was
quite high and the animals, besides losing weight, showed dystrophic changes in
their liver and spleen. The alcoholic extract of the fruit exerted moderate
oncostatic activity against sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich carcinoma at the total dose
350 mg/kg/body weight/mouse. Weight loss was considerable.
Epicatechol-3-D-glucoside dihydride, isolated from the flowers, exhibited no
oncostatic or cytotoxic activity. The Pigment tentatively identified as
dihydroxy-4-methoxyisoflavone, isolated from the fruit, exerted considerable
oncostatic activity (and cytotoxicity). Triacanthine from the leaves was
highly toxic (LD50 ca 35 mg/kg) and of questionable oncostatic activity
(Sokoloff et al., 1964). In Lesotho, fruit pulp is used for catarrh of of the
lung. Powdered seed used as a snuff for head cold. Some people, probably
having seen the erroneous report of cocaine in the leaves, state that
"ingestion of a suitable preparation of the leaf increases the capacity for
muscular work and delays the onset of fatigue." Reported to be anodyne,
mydriatic, narcotic, and experimentally oxytocic (Duke and Wain, 1981),
honeylocust pods are a folk remedy for dyspepsia and measles among the
Cherokee. The bark tea is used for whooping cough. Delaware Indians used the
bark for blood disorders and coughs, the Fox for colds, fevers, measles, and
smallpox. Chinese probed tumors and abscesses with the thorns of Gleditsia
sinensis, considering them counterirritant.
Per 100 g, the fruit is reported to contain (ZMB): 23.1 g protein, 4.6 g fat,
66.9 g total carbohydrate, 12.7 fiber, 5.4 g ash. The seed is said to contain
10.6 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 84.7 g total carbohydrate, 21.1 g fiber, 3.9 g ash,
280 mg Ca and 320 mg P. Scanlon (1980), interested in the potential of
honeylocust for alcohol production, presents the following analytical data.
Differences in sugar content are possible in trees of the same clone grown in
different locations. 'Millwood' pods from trees grown in Beltsville, Maryland,
contained 21.07% total sugars, while 'Millwood' at Auburn, Alabama, contained
36.8%. Small differences in sugars were found in pods from the same clonal
trees collected in different years.
Air-dried leaf yields 0.5% of an alkaloid triacanthine C8H10N4 which in
intravenous doses of 0.1 mg/kg, depresses the action of the cat heart, the
intensity apparently depending on the intensity of effect on the vasomotor
centre (145). Heart-wood contains 44.8% tannin and also fustin and fisetin
(Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). The alkaloid gleditschine is said to
produce stupor and loss of reflex activity in a frog. Stenocarpine has been
used for local anesthesia (Grieve 1931). "It also contains cocaine" (Grieve
1931). To the best of my knowledge it does not contain cocaine!
Tree 2030 m tall with trunk 36 dm in diameter, occasionally reaching a
maximum of 50 m tall, diameter to 1.5 m; bark with many large plates, loose at
edges, grayish-brown. Twigs brown, glabrous; buds small, glabrous, superposed,
the upper one producing a thorn or an inflorescence. Thorns axillary,
lustrous, reddish-brown, ca 58 cm long, with 2 short branches near base, those
on trunk often longer and more branched, with new ones produced for many years.
Leaves 1.62 dm long; if bipinnate, composed of 47 pairs of pinnae, each pinna
1828 leaflets, or the ultimate sections of the leaf pinnate. Leaflets oval to
ovate-oblong, 1.53 cm long, 1.25 cm wide, dark green and glossy above,
yellowish-green and essentially glabrous beneath; margins nearly entire, obtuse
at both ends. Racemes 512 cm long, flowers about 5 mm broad, greenish. Pod
dark brown 24 dm long, 2.53.5 cm wide, about 1 cm thick, smooth and shining.
Space between the seeds filled with sweet edible pulp.
Reported from the North American Center of Diversity, honeylocust or cvs
thereof is reported to tolerate drought, frost, pests, poor soil and slope.
Germplasm is covered rather thoroughly in the SERI symposium on Tree Crops for
Energy Co-production on Farms, especially the papers by McDaniel (1980) and
Scanlon (1980). 'Moraine' and 'sunburst' locusts are nursery selections of the
Native to the central United States, now naturalized east of the Appalachian
Mountains from South Carolina to New England. Also introduced, established and
possibly spreading, sometimes as a weed tree in India, New Zealand and South
Ranging from Warm Temperate Dry to Moist through Cool Temperate Dry to Moist
Forest Life Zones, honeylocust is speculated to tolerate annual precipitation
of 6 to 15 dm, annual temperature of 10 to 21°C, and pH of 6 to 8.
Pretreated seeds (hot water or sulfuric acid) are drilled in rows 1525 cm
apart and covered with 12 cm soil with 3040 seed per linear meter. Seedlings
reach suitable size for outplanting in one year. Clonal reproduction of select
germplasm is often recommended. (2n = 28)
There is a trend toward biennial production in the cultivars, a hectare of
Millwood yielding ca 8000 kg/ha in 1946, but only 550 kg/ha in 1947.
Harvesting of pods is rather difficult, especially in thorny cvs.
'Calhoun' 3 yrs old yielded ca 0.5 kg/tree, 4-yr-olds ca 2 kg/tree, and
5-yr-olds ca 12 kg. 'Millwood 3-yr-olds yielded ca 0.6 kg/tree, 4-yr-olds ca 2
kg/tree, and 5-yr-olds ca 27 kg/ha. With such low yields (Scanlon, 1980) it is
difficult to see how we could get 50 barrels of ethanol per ha. Older
'Millwoods' averaged 33 kg which would give only 3,300 kg/ha if spaced at 100
trees/ha. In Alabama, nearly 6.5 MT Lespedeza sericea hay was produced
annually in the shade of honeylocust spaced at ca 85 trees/ha.
Freedman (1980) cited figures suggesting yields of only 3 MT/ha which would
yield only ca 5 barrels ethanol. The wood has been described as good fuel wood
(C.S.I.R., 19481976). Williams (1980) ranks this as a highly feasible (high
yield, low maintenance) woody perennial for ethanol production in Applachia,
along with blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, elderberry, hawthorn, mulberry,
persimmon, raspberry and serviceberry. He estimated yields at ca 1058 barrels
alcohol per ha, much higher than is consonant with fruit dry weights of 3.3
MT/ha/yr, which is closer to the lower barrel figure (Scanlon, 1980; Williams,
1980). Avgerinos and Wang (1980) were more pessimistic about honeylocust than
mesquite pods for alcohol production.
Allen and Allen (1981) report the invasion of honeylocust root hairs by
rhizobia from Erythrina, Glycine, Leucaena, Lupinus, Pisum, and Vigna
species. The infection threads did not penetrate beyond the epidermal
wall. Disk assay tests using aqueous root extracts showed the presence of
antirhizobial substances that were suggestive of flavones in other tests.
Nodulation was not inhibited or diminished on diverse species of other
leguminous genera grown in association with honeylocust. It was concluded that
the nodule-inhibitory principle was root-contained, or nonfunctional, if exuded
into the rhizosphere (Allen and Allen 1981). In the middle Atlantic states,
the mimosa webworm is beginning to cause problems. Grazing animals may damage
young plants, while other animals and birds may eat the pods. Agriculture
Handbook 165 lists quite a few diseases: Aglaospora anomia, Agrobacterium
rhizogenes, B. ribis, Cercospora condensata, C. olivacea, Curcurbitaria
elongata, C. recuperata, Cytospora gleditschiae, Daelalea ambigua, D. elegans,
Dothiorella gleditschiae, Eutypella fraxinicola, Fomes spp., F.
applanatus, F. connatus, F. igiarius var. laevigatus, F. marmoratus, F.
meliae, Ganoderma curtisii, G. lucidum, Glomerella cingulata, Haplosporella
gleditschiae, H. gleditschiicola, Hendersonia sp., Libertella
gleditschiae, Linospora gleditsiae, Macrophoma mamillaris, Melasmia hypophila,
Microsphaera alni, M. ravenelii, Mycosphaerella sp., Nectria
cinnabarina, Parodiella perisporioides, Phoradendron flavescens Phymatotrichum
omnivorum Physalospora obtusa, P. rhodina Phytophthora citrophthora, Polyporus
spp., P. adustus, P. Albus, P. arcularius, P. hydnoides, P. pargamenus,
P. pulchellus, P. sulphureus, P. supinus, P. tulipiferus, P. versicolor, Poria
ambigua, Ravenelia opaca, Schizophyllum commune, Septobasidium curtisii,
Sphaeropsis gleditschiae, S. gleditschiicola, Sphaeropsis mamillaris, S.
triacanthi, Thyronectria austro-americana, Xylaria mali and Chlorogenus
robiniae. Nematodes of the genus Meloidogyne may be present.
|Constituents of 'Millwood'||Whole pods||Pods without seeds||Seeds only
|Ash || 3.75 || 3.82 || 10.23 |
|Crude fat (ether extract) ||0.81 ||0.52 ||3.06 |
|Crude protein (%N x 6.25) ||10.15 ||8.21 ||28.74 |
|Crude fiber ||14.19 ||13.81 ||11.02 |
|Nitrogen-free extract ||71.10 ||73.64 ||46.95 |
|Reducing sugars (glucose) ||2.86 ||3.32 || |
|Nonreducing sugars (sucrose) ||29.12 ||32.22 || |
|Total sugars ||31.98 ||35.54 || |
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Agriculture Handbook 165. 1960. Index of plant diseases in the United States.
- Allen, O.N. and Allen, E.K. 1981. The Leguminosae. The University of Wisconsin
Press. 812 p.
- Avgerinos, G.C. and Wang, D.I.C. 1980. Utilization of mesquite and honey locust
pods as feedstocks for energy production. p. 209217. In: Tree crops for energy
co-production on farms. Nov. 1214, 1980. SERVCP-622-1086, 260 p.
- Brown, R.C. and Brown, M.L. 1972. Woody plants of Maryland. Port City Press,
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Freedman, D. 1980. Preliminary analysis of the potential for ethanol production
from honeylocust pods. p. 121134. In: Tree crops for energy co-production on
farms. Nov. 1214, 1980. SERVCP-622-1086.
- Grieve, M. 1931. A modern herbal. Reprint 1974. Hafner Press, New York.
- McDaniel, J.C. 1980. A plant breeder looks at some American tree crops: Morus,
Gleditsia, and Diospyros. p. 113118. In: Tree crops for energy co-production
on farms. Nov. 1214, 1980. SERVCP-622-1086.
- Scanlon, D.H., II. 1980. A case study of honeylocust in the Tennessee Valley
Region. p. 2123. In: Tree crops for energy co-production on farms. Nov. 1214,
- Sokoloff, M.D., Funaoka, K., Toypmizu, M., Saelhof, C.C., and Bird, L. 1964.
The oncostatic factors present in Gleditschia triacanthos, a critical
study. p. 97103. In: Growth, 1964 28.
- Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants
of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. E.&S. Livingstone, Ltd., Edinburgh
- Williams, G. 1980. Tree crops for energy production in Appalachia. p. 720. In:
Tree crops for energy co-production on farms. SERVCP-622-1086.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw