[permaculture] what makes black locust last so long?

Niels Corfield mudguard at gmail.com
Mon Aug 25 14:33:25 EDT 2008

My money's on chemicals. It'll have to be a high resin content reckon.
I recently came 3rd in a head-to-head of the best firewoods and that was 
behind a couple of oaks that like grow 5-times slower!
So that may well point to density also.
I don't think it's allelopathic, that's not listed anywhere. It's not an 
aromatic wood also, like cedar. But basically it's not treated, so I 
think it'll be great as a border. After all you wouldn't think twice 
about putting untreated oak in that position, so why black locust.
I think walnut which is known for it's allelopathy is still fine for 
pole wood etc. Though way too high value for that application but safe 
for plants as a timber.
Why not direct your question directly to Geoff Lawton, or PRI forum, or 
in the UK: Phil Corbett (Cool Temperate) or Martin Crawford (ART).
You could ask Elaine Ingham also.
My feeling though is it's safe to use in that application. Especially as 
treated timber/reclaimed rail sleepers are commonly used for raised 
beds, which /do/ leach their toxins into the soil. This one's gotta be 
Just wish I had a nice stand of it nearby for a similar application.
BTW, love that tree.


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paul wheaton wrote:
> I have asked this question about 20 times in all sorts of different
> places.  Any time anybody seems like they might possibly know ...
> So I ask it again here.
> In case nobody knows, I hope that somebody might carry this question
> with them and maybe some day spot an answer.
> So we know that black locust wood lasts a long time.  Old time farmers
> would call it "stone wood" claiming that it would last longer than
> stones when used as fence posts.
> Why?  Does it have some anti-fungal property?  Anti-microbial?  I've
> heard some people say something about it could be because it is just
> so dense - but that doesn't seem right either.  Other dense woods seem
> to decompose fairly rapidly.
> Would it be less than wise to use black locust as a garden border
> because of some alelopathic effect as it decomposes?  Or would it
> somehow make an excellent garden border because it will last 30 years,
> and what little of it that does rot will pass on the n-fixing it did
> when it was alive.
> I've been trying to get an answer to this question for three years ...
> maybe I'm asking it wrong, or researching it wrong ... or something
> ...
> Help!
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