New Mexico Locust

Robinia neomexicana

Robinia neomexicana photo © by Mike Plagens

Along Sycamore Creek in the Pine Mountain Wilderness, Yavapai Co., Arizona, USA. 07 June 2009.

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FLOWERS: Large clusters of pea-flowers in multiple shades of pink blooming mostly May and June.

LEAVES: Pinnately compound leaves are alternate on the stems. Each leaf has 9 to 21+ rather thick leaflets and the leaves are deciduous after frost.

TREE: Usually a large shrub or occasionally a small tree reaching several meters in height. Thickets may form as underground runners give rise to new plants. A champion New Mexico Locust in the Coconino National Forest is 27 meters tall!

RANGE: In Arizona's sycamore woods this plant tends to occur outside the main channel on the flanks of the canyon walls. It ranges from California to Texas and is also found on hillsides in ponderosa woodlands.

FRUIT: A thick bean pod with several bean-seeds. The surfaces of growing pods are covered with very sticky, gland-tipped hairs in which tiny insects often become mired.
Robinia neomexicana photo © by Mike Plagens

ARMED. Stout and sharp thorns on twigs and smaller branches. When New Mexico Locust grows in clumps, bushwhacking through them becomes a painful proposition.

A butterfly, the Silver Spotted Skipper, is almost always found in association with this plant, because the caterpillar feeds on the leaves.

Silver Spotted Skipper

Fabaceae -- Bean Family

More Information:

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
The Flora of Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 01 July 2009,
updated 18 July 2016.