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Skyline Honeylocust

A wonderful feature of the Honeylocust is the fact that the leaflets are small enough that minimal raking is required.

July 2011 Plant of the Month
Skyline Honeylocust
By Wendy Tokheim, Law’s Nursery, Inc.

Are you looking for a specimen shade tree with low maintenance, upright habit and little to no raking necessary in the fall? The Skyline Honeylocust fits the bill. This tree was introduced by Cole Nursery in Ohio and is one of the most cold hardy varieties of the common Honeylocust. It will grow to be about 60 to 100 feet tall and with a spread of about 35-50 feet. It has a compact, pyramidal form as well as a strong central leader so very little corrective pruning is required. It grows at a fast rate especially with full or nearly full sun exposure. It is one of the more adaptable shade trees as it grows in a variety of soil conditions. The Skyline Honeylocust is drought, pH and salt tolerant and transplants well.

The Honeylocust species is known for its undesirable thorns on the trunk and main stems but this cultivar is a thornless (inermis = thornless) selection as well as a seedless variety. The leaves are pinnately or bipinnately compound and are a dark green. It provides filtered shade which allows grass to grow under the tree while also dense enough to provide shade. The leaves turn a coppery yellow color in autumn. A wonderful feature of the Honeylocust is the fact that the leaflets are small enough that minimal raking is required. Skyline Honeylocust have inconspicuous, small flowers that are greenish-yellow in color. The polygamous nature of the flowers allows for some fruiting to occur but is often not seen on this variety. The fruit, if present, is a reddish-brown pod which can grow 8 to 16 inches long.

Skyline Honeylocust have very few pest and disease problems which also make this a wonderful variety to grow. The few pests that may be present include plant bugs and leafhoppers which feed on the leaves causing some leaf drop. Some disease problems include leaf spot which can be prevented with disposal of infected leaves as well as canker. Proper pruning of damaged branches and keeping the tree healthy will help prevent most cankers from damaging the tree.

Other cultivars of the Thornless Honeylocust include Imperial, Shademaster, Northern Acclaim as well as many others but the Skyline Honeylocust tends to hold its own on cold hardiness and pyramidal form. It has been known to grow as a street tree but might be best planted as an accent feature to show off its light feathery texture and shapely crown.