Black Locust – Potential – Pioneer of Hardwoods (Ace of Swords)
Genus: Robinia – Family: Fabaceae
Black locust signals a time of potential. Our action or inaction could have long-lasting consequences. It is important to seek truth and discernment so we are able to act wisely.
Black locust is a pioneer species that grows and spreads easily. Its wood is one of the cleanest to burn and its roots produce nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can amend depleted soils. To some it is seen as an “invasive weed;” to others it is the tree “that built America.”
Native Americans saw black locust, Robinia pseudoacaas a premier wood used to make bows because of its strength and flexibility. Black locust trees were harvested to build homes and ships for European settlers. George Washington admired its beauty so much that he planted them at Mount Vernon. As a young man, Abraham Lincoln, split rails and fence posts from black locust logs.
Black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia is a deciduous hardwood tree native to eastern North America. It was introduced to Europe in the 1600s as both Locusta Virginiana and Acacia Americana.
Black locust trees produce toxic dark pods in fall, which is how they became known as locust trees. The term “locust” was originally used to describe the edible pods of carob trees that were seen to resemble the edible insect called a locust or grasshopper.
In spring, black locust trees produce fragrant, white blossoms that taste like fresh peas. These large blossoms are the only edible part of the tree, as the pods, leaves and bark are toxic. One of the lessons of the locust tree is to use discernment before eating wild edibles.
Since black locust trees have thorns it was originally associated with the acacia tree, a hardwood from Africa. The word acacia means “thorn” in Greek. Pseudoacaciameans “false acacia.”
Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) officially named black locust Robinia pseudoacacia. The genus name Robinia is based on the royal French gardener Jean Robin (1550-1629) who originally introduced the black locust to Europe in 1601.
Message: The spirit of the black locust urges us to live to our fullest potential, to travel and experience life in all its complexities. By expanding our world, we expand our worldview and thus our knowledge base. Knowledge is an important aspect when practicing discernment. This is a time of new ideas and intellectual pursuits. Embrace all challenges as an opportunity to practice discernment.
Challenge: Lack of adventure or desire to explore.