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Black Locust

16262 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  CAS14
This is an objective of mine, in part, because the Cherokee bow makers used it, along with Bois D'Arc, and in part because the uplands habitat is similar to that of Bois D'Arc. Both seem to thrive in well drained limey soils, and those are abundant in the Ozark Plateau area, and adjacent areas where limestone rock units are at the surface.

A field trip in search of Black Locust or Bois D'Arc could yield either or both.


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I'm not sure that I have seen that wood used before. I am going to have to look into what the grain and bark looks like.
I just pulled some books out of the attic. One states that the Black Locust grows in deep, limy lowland soils. Aaron, I'll look for pics.

Other names are Honey Locust, Thorn Locust, and Three-thorned Locust. We had one growing along a fence line and used to cut off those long, sharp thorns to pretend they were little swords.
I'll try and take a couple of pics of the black locust trees up here. I'm next to acres of the stuff, both saplings and full grown. The

bark on the mature trees is really neat looking stuff.

I once plucked a sapling for a walking stick and made the mistake of peeling off the bark right away which btw, you can strip it

clean in about 30 seconds just using your thumb, comes off in huge strips, but it split from bow to stern within a week. :)
I just purchased the:

Field Guide to Trees of North America, by Kershner, Mathews, Nelson & Spellenberg, published by the National Wildlife Federation in 2008. This field guide has a supposedly waterproof cover. More importantly the descriptions are outstanding, and include color photos of leaves, bark, fruit and nuts (no photos of me).

According to this reference, the Black Locust and the Honey Locust are closely related but different. The thorns that I recall are those pictured for the Honey Locust.
I have several species of locust, including black, growing all around my area like weeds. As a carver, I have avoided this species like the plague as it is is very carving "unfriendly". Not only hard, but strangely resistant to chisel and mallet blows. On the other hand, it is crazy tough, and would be great for shafts to be sanded and finished. It is used around here mostly for fence posts because it is highly resistant to rot. Makes great firewood too - burns slow and hot : )
Score! Searching the woods in Chandler Park, west Tulsa, I had found only one poor slingshot fork in the hour + that I had allotted. I gave up and began circling back to the truck, and happened upon a power line right of way. Apparently, last summer they had cut down new growth that potentially could in a few years touch the power lines.

I spotted a young tree, in a pile. Near their cut at the base, the oval-shaped trunk is 2" x 2 3/8". I cut about 7' to bring home. I had my own walking stick, but this beast was more useful for climbing a few rock ledges on my return.

Distinguishing tipoffs included the small, sharp spines, 1/4"-3/8" long, less numerous than I remembered on Locust trees, and narrower than those I've seen pictured. The tree had been cut well before leaf drop in the Fall, and so the leaves remained attached. I'd bet this is in the Locust family, and perhaps a Black Locust. I estimate this has been naturally drying for five or six months, a wild guess I admit.

Brown Wood Grass Twig Groundcover


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