New Mexico Locust

In late spring to midsummer, New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana) trees bloom on Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. These small, multi-stemmed trees or large shrubs have fragrant, lilac-pink, pea-like flowers in large, showy clusters and large, pinnately compound leaves.

New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana)

New Mexico Locusts are very beautiful in bloom. These lovely trees are found growing in open, sunny areas of the pine forest, such as along roadsides or in burned areas (of which there are many on Mt. Lemmon). The flowers are supposedly edible, but the seeds, bark, and roots are all poisonous, so I hesitate to try tasting the flowers, which are too pretty to eat anyway.

The flowers are followed by large, hairy, brown seed pods. These native, Southwestern trees are very easily propagated by seed. New Mexico Locusts have a high fire tolerance and are among the first trees to return after a forest fire. The seeds and roots will sprout readily, so these trees can form dense thickets, and thus help prevent soil erosion after a fire.