Garden Photo of the Day


Click to enlarge.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

When I went to visit Bob and Christa Stamper’s garden in Zionsville, Pennsylvania, a few weeks ago, Bob pointed out this tree, and I was horrified… Holy cow! He says, “This is the common native honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7). A long time ago I ordered 10 plants of a thornless variety to create a small, airy grove, but this one has reverted.The conspicuous thorns on the trunk are modified branches. Apparently this is an adaptation against large herbivores in the geologic past. I like the thorns for their prehistoric appearance, but one day Christa, my wife, was weeding on the slope by the tree and lost her balance. She reached out to the tree for support and painfully stabbed herself. Needless to say, she has no great love for this tree. Since then she makes certain she has good footing when working near it and has trimmed off the lower thorns. Pioneers used the very hard thorns as nails, for carding wool, and as pins for closing sacks.” Fascinating! But I won’t be rushing out to buy one, even though the lacy veil it creates when you look up to the sky is beautiful!

Click to enlarge.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais


Welcome to the Fine Gardening GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY blog! Every weekday we post a new photo of a great garden, a spectacular plant, a stunning plant combination, or any number of other subjects. Think of it as your morning jolt of green.

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  1. gottagarden 07/22/2011

    Just 2 days ago my friend was cutting firewood and had a run in with one of these. One of the large thorns went through his leather glove and all the way straight through his thumb. His wife (a nurse) tried pulling the thorn out with vise grips but it wouldn't budge. He had to go to the doctor to have them cut off the glove and cut open his thumb to remove this thorn. talk about OUCH

  2. DreamGardener 07/22/2011


  3. Deanneart 07/22/2011


  4. Kimpansy 07/22/2011

    I guess gottagarden's friend won't be giving this photo a thumbs up.
    Sorry, gg. I couldn't resist. I hope your friend is on the mend.

  5. BethTW 07/22/2011

    when i was young my stubborn horse (Spirit) used to try to brush me up against these trees. never knew what they were called but I always referred to them as 'Jesus Trees'. Now glad to know the real name!

  6. Tate85 07/22/2011

    WOW!! Never seen these before. Tree-climbing sea urchins.

  7. MichelleGervais 07/22/2011

    Haha! Kimpansy..... bad, but oh-so-funny! Sorry gottagarden... I hope your friend's thumb is OK! Yikes!

  8. petuniababi 07/22/2011

    I have never seen or heard of this tree until now.WOW!!!

  9. Garius 07/22/2011

    It's actually a very nice tree (except for those thorns). It blooms in the spring with white, very fragrant wisteria-like flowers. You can smell the tree a block away, if the wind is blowing your way.

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