May 06 2010
The air in my neighborhood smells so sweet! The black locust trees are in bloom.
Black locusts dominate my neighborhood because they’re one of the first trees to grow in poor, disturbed soil. They are ugly in winter with gnarly bark and twisted branches. Not for us the beauty of oaks and maples.
But when the locusts bloom they’re gorgeous. Their flowers hang like bunches of grapes, showing off their membership in the pea family. The flowers even smell like grapes in order to attract bees.
Black locust blossoms normally reach their peak on May 12 but this year they’re early in our unusual, early spring.
Time to smell the flowers! They last only 10 days.
p.s. Did you know that rose-breated grosbeaks eat these flowers? They use their large beaks to grab the base of a flower and twirl. The white petals fall off. They swallow the nectar end.
(photo by Kate St. John)