Locust Plant – Poisonous tree
For this symbolic project, we combined different stages of the Black Locust tree's life. I prepared the design of a branch with spikes, leaves, and flowers. The blooming and the spikes can not be seen together at the same period of time. Spikes usually are present on branches of young trees near the ground. Also, its blooming period is short (about 10 days). Locust spends more time being bare than covered in leaves. It appears as an out-of-time tattoo, sort of to speak.
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Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) is a deciduous tree (family Fabaceae) that grows to 100 feet tall. Historically planted as a landscape tree, black locust has escaped cultivation and become invasive in California and elsewhere.
Black locust has been spread and used as a plant for erosion control as it is fast-growing and generally a tough tree. The Locust tree hosts nitrogen-fixers, a type of soil bacteria, in its root system. As the bacteria live and grow in the tree roots, they convert nitrogen into a usable form.
The wood considered the most durable wood in North America, has been very desirable and motivated people to move the tree to areas where it is not native so the wood can be farmed and used. Black locust is a major honey plant in the eastern US.
The bark, leaves, and wood are toxic to both humans and livestock. These toxic dark pods inspired its name of Black Locust. The only edible portion of black locust trees is their large fragrant blossoms that taste like fresh peas.
It is likely that the Locust tree was named after a biblical reference. Matthew 3:4 relates the story of John the Baptist eating locusts and honey. Some people believe that the ‘locusts’ actually were seed pods of the Carob tree, which resemble those of the Locust tree.
The spirit of the black locust urges us to live to our fullest potential, to travel and experience life in all its complexities.
Some Second Spirit Native American tribes have a myth around the locust blossoms that translates as follows. The winter and spring months have particularly bright moons. The lunar gods take a knife and cut a slice off the edge of the moon every night, as the months progress. Each May they hang the moon slices on the locust tree, which are bright as the moon against the green branches. Those same moon slices dry up in the summer and drop in the fall as hardened slivers of the moon.