The Honey Locust is a common tree in Ohio and throughout the United States.
The easiest way to recognize the native Honey Locust is to look for the stout sharply pointed branched spines. The leaves of the honey locust trees can be easily confused with a close relative, the black locust. Both trees have pinnately compound leaves that are divided into many leaflets.
The main difference between these two trees is that the leaflets of the honey locust are much smaller than those of the black locust, and the leaves of the honey locust are often bipinnately compound. Also, the most obvious difference between the two trees is that the honey locust has the large branched thorns on the branches and even larger thorns that can cover a large portion of the trunk, and the black locust has tiny paired prickles or very small spines at the base of each leaf.
Be careful: The large thorns of this tree can cause injury and the wounds have been known to heal very slowly.
The honey locust is part of the pea and bean family, Fabaceae. This plant will produce fruits called legumes which resemble very large beans. The pods will mature in early fall and the insides are actually edible to herbivores such as cows and horses. The pods are very valuable to wildlife because they are a source of food for deer, rabbits, and squirrels. The pulp of the black locust, however, is toxic if ingested. Historically, the pods of the honey locust were used by Native Americans for sweetener and even as a small food source.
The wood of the honey locust is commonly used for fence posts and railroad ties since it is very durable, even while it is in the soil.