Black Locust – Robinia pseudoacacia

Black Locust Flowers
Black Locust Flowers

The tall black locust on the hill
    Broke into bloom the night you came;
Its lonesome fragrance haunts me still,
    And though I seldom speak your name
I know that now life never will
    Be quite the same- not quite the same.

Bertha Lee Hempstead

 

This plant is tonic, emetic, and purgative in its bark and root, but due to its toxicity it is rarely if ever used in herbal medicine. Every part of the tree is toxic, except the flowers! The leaves and seedpods are poisonous to horses also; although it is choice browse for white tailed deer.

The wood is extremely hard and long lasting making it highly prized as fence posts. In fact a former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, spent a lot of his time splitting rails and fence posts of black locust wood.

The long racemes of flowers appear in May and June and carry a lovely fragrance. An essential oil, which is highly valued in aromatherapy, is obtained from the flowers and is utilized in perfumery. The essential oil has also been used as a spice in sherbets and toilet waters.

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