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Thornless Common Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis)



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published October 2018, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: Deciduous broadleaf

Height: 70 feet

Spread: 50 feet 

Shape: Oval, spreading

Thornless honeylocust is a large tree that tolerates both wet and dry soils. One should select a cultivar for fruitlessness and pest resistance.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 4 to 9

Light: Partial shade to full sun

Moisture: Wet, moist, to dry

Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay

pH Range: 4.5 to 7.3


Suggested uses for this plant include shade, street tree, massing, and specimen plant.

Planting Notes:

Plant improved cultivars with good form, and being thornless, podless, and pest resistant. Easy to transplant because it withstands a wide range of conditions. Prefers full sun. Extremely salt tolerant.


Spray twice yearly to control webworms.


Susceptible to Thyronectria canker, mimosa webworms, leaf hoppers, spider mites, and leaf galls. Webworms are the worst problem, occasionally defoliating trees by August.


Consult garden centers, historic or public gardens and arboreta regarding cultivars and related species that grow well in your area.
Cultivars of Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis:
`Sunburst' has yellow new foliage which turns bright-green. It is seedless and podless, however, it is susceptable to Thronectria canker.
`Shademaster' has ascending branches, dark green leaves and is podless.
`Majestic' has nice dark-green foliage and is podless.
There are many cultivars available with good form, fall color, and pest resistant characteristics.


Native honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) trees are best known for their hazardous thorns and long, flat seed pods. Pest resistant, thornless, good form, and podless cultivars are highly recommended.

Lacy foliage gives a loose, open shade ideal for patios and shade loving plants. In autumn, the small leaflets filter into the grass as they fall, requiring little raking.

This material was developed by Carol Ness as part of the Interactive Design and Development Project funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

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Publication Date

March 7, 2024