Robinia have pendulous racemes of beautiful butterfly-like, fragrant flowers that range from dusky white to pale pink and dark purple. These attractive trees, commonly called False Acacia or Black Locust, make great specimen trees and are particularly popular for oriental style gardens.
Robinia pseudoacacia trees are native to south-eastern U.S but have since been naturalised to Europe and other parts of the world. Robinia are resistant to rot and produce hard, strong wood. Many parts of this tree are used in cultivation and throughout different cultures.
Robinia trees are of great value to wildlife. In America and France where the climate is warmer, the flowers produce good amounts of nectar for bees to make honey. The honey from Black Locust trees is thought to be superior to most others and called Acacia Honey. Rabbits, squirrels and birds eat the seeds but the bark, seeds and leaves are toxic to humans and cattle.
The name Robinia was used in honour of Jean Robin and his son Vespasien Robin who were herbalists to King Henry IV of France. Jean Robin was the first person to introduce this tree to Europe from North America. False Acacia is a literal translation of Pseudoacacia which is in reference to the similarities these trees share with the Acacia species.
One of the first trees to be planted in the Original Kew Gardens was a False Acacia tree, planted in 1762 and still standing today. Planted over 250 years ago and now supported by metal bands, this tree is expected to live for at least another 50 years.