Herb: Honey Locust
Latin name: Gleditsia triacanthos
Medicinal use of Honey Locust:The pods have been made into a tea for the treatment of indigestion, measles, catarrh etc. The juice of the pods is antiseptic. The pods have been seen as a good antidote for children's complaints. The alcoholic extract of the fruits of the honey locust, after elimination of tannin, considerably retarded the growth, up to 63% of Ehrlich mouse carcinoma. However, the cytotoxicity of the extract was quite high and the animals, besides losing weight, showed dystrophic changes in their liver and spleen. The alcoholic extract of the fruit exerted moderate oncostatic activity against sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich carcinoma at the total dose 350 mg/kg/body weight/mouse. Weight loss was considerable. An infusion of the bark has been drunk and used as a wash in the treatment of dyspepsia. It has also been used in the treatment of whooping cough, measles, smallpox etc. The twigs and the leaves contain the alkaloids gleditschine and stenocarpine. Stenocarpine has been used as a local anaesthetic whilst gleditschine causes stupor and loss of reflex activity. Current research is examining the leaves as a potential source of anticancer compounds.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Usually growing singly, though occasionally forming almost pure woods, on the borders of streams and in rich woods, usually in moist fertile soils but sometimes on dry sterile gravelly hills.
Edible parts of Honey Locust:Seed - raw or cooked. It can contain up to 30% sugar. Young seeds taste like raw peas. Seeds are not always borne in maritime regions because the tree prefers long hot summers. The oval seeds are about 8mm long. They 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. The seeds have been roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Seedpods - the pulp is sweet and can be eaten raw or made into sugar. The render young seedpods can be cooked and eaten. The pulp in older pods turns bitter. The seedpods are up to 40cm long and 4cm wide. A sweet, pleasant tasting drink can be made from the seed pods. The seed pulp has been used to make a drink.
Other uses of the herb: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 - strong, coarse-grained, elastic, very hard, very durable in contact with the soil, highly shock resistant. It does not shrink much but splits rather easily and does not glue well. It weighs 42lb per cubic foot. Largely used for making fence posts and rails, wheel hubs, farm implements etc and in construction.
Propagation of Honey Locust:Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in a greenhouse. The seed should have swollen up, in which case it can be sown, if it has not swollen then soak it for another 24 hours in warm water. If this does not work then file away some of the seed coat but be careful not to damage the embryo. Further soaking should then cause the seed to swell. One it has swollen, the seed should germinate within 2 - 4 weeks at 20°C. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Give the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.
Cultivation of the herb:Usually growing singly, though occasionally forming almost pure woods, on the borders of streams and in rich woods, usually in moist fertile soils but sometimes on dry sterile gravelly hills.
Known hazards of Gleditsia triacanthos:The plant contains potentially toxic compounds.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.