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NAME: Honey Locust
SPECIES / FAMILY: Gleditsia Triacanthos / Fabaceae
OTHER COMMON NAME(S): thorny locust
CONDITIONS: full sun
COMMENT: The Indians used the pulp to make a beverages and for many other uses.(4) Related to carob & can be used in similar fashion. However, read the caution below. All honey locust trees are not created equal. Some drop big fat pods, that have small seeds, or vice versa. The green pods in the summer have green peas that can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste like peas. The brown seedpod in fall has sweet pulp that tastes like banana liquor. The amount of pulp depends on the tree. Take the brown seed pod, break lengthwise, separating the seed-side from the pulp side. You can use pulp or just the pulp side in numerous ways. Take pitcher of water and fill with pulpy-pod-halves, let sit for 30 minutes, massaging the pods to extract the sweet pulp, strain, then drink. You can also eat the brown pod shell, letting your saliva break it down, as with a carob pod. Pod can also be dried and ground into a powder for cooking or baking. Brown seeds can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute, or soak them for 24 hours, then cook for 1-2 hours, add salt and oil (I prefer walnut oil). Tastes between a baked bean and a soy bean. Again read the caution.
CAUTION: According to PFAF, although it lists the pods and seeds as edible, it also contains potentially toxic compounds.(1) So, proceed with caution. Only use sweet pulp. This editor finds the juice made from seed pod pulp, although delicious, gave me a slight headache. Others did not react that way. The beans did not have the same effect, but I'll also treat with caution. As with any plant, you may be sensitive or allergic to it. PFAF reports that green "pod" skin is edible raw or cooked, but this editor disagrees having tried it both ways and found it to be not edible - way too tough, but instead the brown pod skin should be ground to a powder.
NUTRITION/MEDICINAL: The oval seeds contain 10.6 - 24.1% protein, 0.8 - 4.3% fat, 84.7% carbohydrate, 21.1% fibre, 4% ash, 280mg calcium and 320mg phosphorus per 100g.(1)
LOOK-A-LIKES: Black Locust tree and leaves are similar, although the pods are very small and not edible. The Kentucky Coffee tree's pods are much shorter, but wider and fatter, and need extensive processing.
OTHER USES: Gum; Soil reclamation; Tannin; Wood. Planted for land reclamation on mining waste. The gum from the seeds has been suggested as an emulsifying substitute for acacia and tragacanth. The heartwood contains 4 - 4.8% tannin. Wood - Largely used for making fence posts and rails, wheel hubs, farm implements etc and in construction.(1)
SOURCE LINKS (may include nutritional and medicinal info, plus other uses):
- http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/mesquitehoney-locust.html (good photos)
- https://ethnobotanicalenthusiast.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/honey-locust-gleditsia-triacanthos (great summary of information, although editor is located in England)
- http://ledameredith.com/make-carob-honey-locust-pod-powder (how to make honey locust powder)