are locust seeds viable

(Question)

On our street, we have a light green locust tree that turns yellow in the fall. Recently, the ground was blanketed with small flowers. Do all locust have the long curly pods? Were these “flowers” merely flowers or were they viable seed. Last year, I did see a few locust trees germinate before being cut by a mower.

Are these droppings viable or infertile?

(Answer)

References:

Making More Plants, The Science, Art and Joy of Progagation, Ken Druse

The Botanical Garden, Volume 1 Trees and Shrubs, Roger Phillips & Martin Rix

University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture: http://www.uky.edu/hort/propagation-honeylocust

 

The droppings were the flowers of the locust, probably a variety of honey locust, gleditsia triacanthos, which are quite small. If the flowers were fertilized, before they dropped, they should form seed pods by fall. You should collect them after they turn dark and the pods becomes dry.

Honey locusts are quite easy to grow from seed provided you take steps to promote the shell of the seed to open, as the  seeds in the pods have hard coats.  First you should peel away the outer pod from seed (similar to shelling peas, which is not surpising as this tree is a member of the same family – Leguminosae).  There are a number of ways to try and get the seed to germinate.  You can plant them outside in the fall, where they will experience the winter’s freezing and thawing cycle which should allow the seed shell to open.  Or you can scarify the seeds, by dragging then across fine sand paper or nicking with a razor, before planting.  This step breaches the seed coats, allowing water to enter and germination to take.  Another alternative is to soak the seed in very very hot water (the water is very hot at the beginning of the process; it does not need to be kept hot), for a day and two before planting.