Every native plant gardener has an exotic love they can’t quite resist, and mine is a beauty: a “Frisia” black locust with elegant arching limbs, yellow-green leaves that positively glow in the sunrise and sunset, and white flowers with an intoxicating smell of honey. It is remarked upon by practically everyone who says anything about my yard.
Here’s a picture of another specimen, on the edge of a field:
To its beauty I should add some other accolades: black locust grows fast (2-3 feet a year, meaning it fixes a lot of carbon), makes excellent firewood (with one of the highest BTU ratings of any American tree, 29.2 million BTU’s per cord), and is the pollen source for “acacia” monofloral honey. I know–the bees come in droves every year.
Nonetheless this species gets a bad rap from the botaniscenti. Though records of black locust exist in Oregon since 1898 (according to a query at http://invader.dbs.umt.edu), it is only naturalized in, not native to, the state. In concept it could interfere or supplant native plants, especially on disturbed ground, considering black locust’s ability to tough it out on dry and poor sites, and its habit of reproducing by runners.
These problems haven’t occurred in my yard, and it’s hard to even remember them when you see the golden boughs waving. Maria Callas wasn’t from Oregon, either, but it’s sure good to hear her sing…