Black Locust tree (or false acacia), Robinia pseudoacacia
A prized tree in the 1760s the Black Locust Tree was actually introduced to this country in the 1640s with the hope it would prove a good timber tree. Native to most parts of North America, it was introduced by John Tradescant the Younger. By 1768 Kew had 3 species of Robinia at Kew.
This specimen was one of the prize trees planted around the Temple of the Sun. Here it grew next to a Turkey Oak, Cedar of Lebanon, Cork Oak and an American Locust Tree. Most of these trees came from the Duke of Argyll's estate at Whitton and this specimen is the last survivor of that group.
This specimen is one of the few trees remaining from the botanic garden, founded at Kew in 1759 by Princess Augusta, the mother of George III. Other surviving specimens include a pagoda tree (Sophora japonica) and a maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) and collectively these are known as the "Old Lions".
The locust tree’s common name arose from its resemblence to the carob tree, which was known as the locust tree in biblical times. This duplication of common names can cause considerable confusion, so botanists give each plant a unique scientific name which is used throughout the world. The locust tree seen here is Robinia pseudoacacia whereas the carob tree is Ceratonia siliqua.
This beautiful member of the bean family, Leguminosae, has feathery green foliage and hanging inflorescences of fragrant white flowers. It is native to the eastern USA, and was first introduced to Europe in the 1630s. The tree’s hard heavy timber is resistant to decay and was valued for use as gateposts.
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Search Kew's electronic Plant Information Centre for scientific information about Robinia pseudoacacia