Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

SW corner of Old Main Map

At first glance the black locust is a tree that only a mother could love. With its wrinkled, gray bark, lacerating spines and autumnal litter of seed pods, it seems an unlikely candidate for horticultural success. Nevertheless, the black locust has been planted widely throughout North America; in Bellingham they are extremely common. Significant redeeming attributes include a spring display of delicate, long compound leaves, followed by a dense mass of white flowers. Their popularity no doubt also stems in part from their quick-growing tendencies, the fact that their wood is highly valued, and that they are difficult to kill. On the negative side, they tend to produce many adjacent offspring, through seeds and suckering from roots.

Our black locust is about 100 ft. tall and 3 1/2 ft. in diameter. Judging from old photographs, it must be about 90 years old (in 2006). Champion trees may reach 120 ft. in height, but have substantially thicker trunks. Another large campus Robinia is planted near the southwest corner of College Hall.