Restraining The Monster
The second find of baby locust was more obviously...a black locust.
Or... Black Locust, Revisited.
About three years ago, we took out an almond tree that was doing poorly in our heavy clay (at that point) soil. If I had bothered to do the research first, I probably would never have planted the almond. If I were to try again now, it might be happier. That said, we're not planting anything at the moment. But we did just rip something out.
We noticed the growth on one of the daily walks around the yard, when we look for necessary pruning, thinning or tidying up. At first, we thought it was a peanut plant that had grown from one of the squirrels' overzealous planting sprees.
No such luck.
Our first effort just snapped the top off, which we knew meant there was More Below. Not yet ready to fetch any kind of "implement," I dug in my fingers a bit and gave it a tug.
You're reading that correctly. More than 2X the height of the tree.
I got two feet of root in both directions. YIKES! This is NOT a peanut plant! I took a closer look at the leaves and realized what was afoot. Twelve and a half feet from the original tree, our "Twisty Baby" black locust (which had been billed as a urban alternative to the native) was running amuck. The tree itself (after 3 years) was just six feet tall.
is tree whose role is to repopulate disturbed soil. It tolerates pollution well, and like other members of the pea family, helps to fix nitrogen into the soil, making other things grow better once
has had its way. It is a vigorous grower, has lovely blooms, and would be a valuable lumber source were locust borers not the problem they have become with warmer temperatures--the wood is extremely hard and dense, making it good for both firewood and lumber. In fact, cutting a mature locust for harvest and then allowing it to grow back from the stump yields results more quickly, making it a model species for this type of forestry. It is also an impressive pollinator plant and produces enough pollen to make it important to the honey industry in the eastern United States.
Just a few of the supple little darlings we dug up.
"Twisty Baby" is a dwarf of the native and does not bloom much. The form is more than a bit kinky, as you might expect from the name. We planted it as camouflage for a front-yard-mounted bird house and were rewarded with nesting tufted titmice this year. HOWEVER. The titmice will just have to use the vitex, instead! As you will note in the Wikipedia entry listed below, Robinia does reach the status of "invasive" in some places. Other sources now also mention that it might sucker. So this is my mea culpa to you--I should have taken the true native's characteristics more to heart before planting this cultivar tree.
Excavation of the massive root zone began the following weekend. It took hours. The larger pieces, once the soil was loosened above them, would pull up pretty much without breaking. The flagstone had to be temporarily displaced. Many of the smaller pieces of root were removed, as well. I will not pretend, however, that I got it all, so there may be more for me to work on in the future. That being said, order has temporarily been restored to the front yard.
This is not the first time I've goofed on a cultivar, and it would be foolish to pretend it will be my last. Having done my penance, I'm passing on this tale to you so that you can be forewarned. If you've already planted a "Twisty Baby,"all I can say is...keep your eyes open!
Anybody else out there with a spectacular goof?
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