John the Baptist did not really eat orthopteran insects out in the desert. The locust he ate were the beans of the carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua. They are actually quite nutritious. Supposedly, they are known as locust because they resemble the elongated abdomens of the insects with the same name. A few other related trees that also produce beans are collective known as such.
Robinia pseudoacacia happens to be known as black locust, even though there is nothing black about it, and the tiny and papery beans do not even remotely resemble insects. Supposedly, it arrived with Gold Rush prospectors who wanted something of their homes in Eastern North America. It naturalized aggressively, and is now an invasive exotic species in much of the West.
We tolerate a few at work. They are too pretty to cut down without a good excuse. However, one gave us a good excuse when it fell last winter. It was notably polite about it, by falling into a gap between two roofs that a cat could jump across. Damage was very minimal. Nonetheless, the tree and its destabilizing associates needed to be removed. They are gone but not forgotten.
1. Thorns of black locust only look blurry in this picture. They are wickedly sharp! The sharpest are on the most vigorous stems, which is exactly what the freshly cut stumps here generate.
2. Thickets of suckers (or watersprouts) like these developed where black locust trees were cut down last winter. Most developed on freshly cut stumps. Many emerged from random roots.
3. More than half of the suckers from the formerly impenetrable thicket around the stump at the center of the picture were removed to relinquish space for the lauristinus in the foreground.
4. A few bay trees got cut down with the black locust trees. I wanted them coppiced, but was away when they instead got VERY badly pollarded. Oh, the shame! (I will coppice them later.)
5. As nasty as black locust is, it has a few attributes. Spring bloom resembles that of white wisteria, and is almost as fragrant. This finely textured pinnately compound foliage is quite elegant.
6. Their high and open canopies provide nice shade too. It is just enough for warm summer weather, but not too much to exclude turf grass and understory plants that tolerate partial shade.
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate: