Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Twisty Baby’ (Dwarf Black Locust)
Before planting this tree, it’s important to appreciate the entire tree, for better or worse. It is a native to the southeastern United States, but is considered an invasive species in some regions.
What’s to Love:
Robinia ‘Twisty Baby’ is a fast-growing, small, deciduous, specimen tree (8-10’ tall), best utilized as a focal point in the garden. It has graceful, curving branches, dripping with fragrant white racemes in spring (5-7” long) that smell like orange blossoms. Prune only in spring, just after bloom, to avoid removing next year’s flower buds. The tree is deer resistant.
Black Locust trees are considered an excellent nectar source for honey bees. Bee keepers harvest the monofloral honey from Robinia pseudoacacia (False Acacia, sometimes labeled American Acacia) for its low acid content and its high fructose content, which allows it to stay liquid for a long time.
The Cautionary Side:
Locust borers can be a problem, riddling the trunk and branches with holes where they lay their eggs. When winter ends, larvae burrow into the trunk, weakening the tree, causing it to become stunted and diseased, often killing the tree.
Suckering will occur around the trunk, and these new shoots should be removed regularly to maintain the integrity of the tree. Watch for scale, leaf miner, powdery mildew and canker and treat immediately, or remove infected branches and dispose of carefully. Situate the tree in a well-drained location to avoid root-rot and fungal disease (Phytophthora), especially in regions receiving heavy rainfall. Information on twig blight and cankers can be found here.
In France and Italy, the flowers of Robinia pseudoacacia are eaten as beignets: battered, deep fried in oil, and sprinkled with powered sugar. However, other parts of the plant are considered poisonous. Information, here on which parts of the plant are edible, and which are poisonous.
In regions with heavy snow and ice, the contorted branches are susceptible to winter storm damage.