Monday, November 05, 2007

'Shademaster' Honeylocust

This is a fine example of the thornless 'Shademaster' Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos inermis 'Shademaster') in fall color. Somewhat vase-shaped, with a pleasing rounded outline, this tree offers a light, filtered shade. The dark green compound leaflets turn golden each autumn and because of their small size (about 1/2" long), fall clean up is easy - the leaflets often "melt away" into the soil, before one has a chance to rake. 'Shademaster' is basically podless, further proof of its cleanliness and good manners.

Growing at the rate of approximately 1 1/2' per year, this tree is also valued for its fast growth. Trees mature at around 50-60' high by 30-40' wide, so they definitely need their space. As with any plant, especially large-scale trees and evergreens, you must take into account the mature sizes of proposed specimens. Overcrowding is a major factor in plant decline and outright failure.

When considering a new addition to your landscape, also research any known issues, such as insect, disease or environmental stresses. There are few plants without at least a couple of such problems and, unfortunately, the honeylocust is no exception. Do your research, before you invest. Often, the risk of encountering various known issues is worth it to the homeowner who is willing to take preventative measures and/or maintain a certain level of vigilance.

One of the best preventative steps you can take, is to plant only one honeylocust. On its own, without other nearby specimens (look around the neighborhood), it's quite likely that yours will remain a sturdy, healthy tree. 'Shademaster' is one of the strongest growing of the honeylocusts and can be just the right accent where filtered shade is the goal. I know... I had one for years and still miss it! Oh, and did I mention that they're spectacular in autumn?

©Deb Lambert 2007

Photos: ©2007 Corliss Bros. Garden Center


AJ said...

I have a shademaster, and I am now running into a problem with the branches breaking after a moderate to heavy rain. It appears the branches are unable to support the weight of all the water soaked branches. This seems quite unusual and I am wondering if their is special rpuning that must be completed for this breed.

GardenAuthor said...

AJ ~ As I stated in the post, single specimens usually fare better than monogamous plantings... true with any tree plantings (ie American Elm). However; having said that, mine was a single specimen - no others in the immediate vicinity - and it succumbed to shoestring root rot (Armillaria), which started evidencing itself with brittle, falling twigs and branches. So, despite controlling the locust borer, it eventually fell over during a winter storm... I diagnosed the root rot afterward, as the fanlike strands had invaded the conductive tissue, just beneath the bark... all of the surface roots, except one, had rotted away.

You should probably have the tree inspected by a certified arborist, to diagnose any potential problems, which may be the underlying reason for weakened branches and associated drop. I hope Armillaria is not the diagnosis, as it can travel to other plants and precludes one from planting in that spot for some time.

It's hard to see our prized trees struggling and/or outgrowing their allotted suburban spaces... if you have a chance, view my last posting on "Butch, the Wonder Linden" - a 50' linden taken down by an arborist... even those of us within the "green industry" make the occasional faux pas, in tree selection or placement in our own landscapes. It served me well and it's replacement will be considerably easier to manage.

Best of success with your honeylocust...... Deb

Anonymous said...

Are you saying this was a beautiful tree, but not a good one to plant in yur landscape? I literrally just bought one last night and they are delivering it in a few days. Our neighborhood is fairly new, so not many trees at all in the area. We are planning to plant it right next to our deck and I'd hate to have it break in the CO snow and ruin my deck. Was this a bad call?

GardenAuthor said...

Mr/Ms Anonymous ~ I think you've made a great selection and as long as you leave enough room to accommodate the mature spread, near the deck, it should be just fine. For all the reasons outlined in my original post, I truly enjoyed this tree, but nothing in nature is perfect (Re: my answer to the above comments by "AJ"). The light, filtered shade should be just right for your situation. It's always wise to do a little research before such an investment, so one is aware of any particular issues (like locust borer)... vigilance in the landscape for the first signs of any problem is always a good idea. It's all about prevention!

I'm sure you'll have many years of pleasure from your honeylocust.