Gleditsia triacanthos inermis ‘Shademaster’
Many horticulturists consider this to be one of the best cultivars of Honeylocust. Thornless Honeylocust is a deciduous native North American tree of the family Leguminosae. It grows 50 to 70 feet tall and almost as wide, forming a graceful, vase-shape to oval outline almost like a smaller version of American Elm. It will grow two to four feet each year during the first 15 years after planting. The branches are upright with lower branches held horizontally on older specimens as the branch tips droop to the horizontal. The trunk is reported to be straight on ‘Shademaster’, but many specimens appear to have several ascending trunks (co-dominant branches or trunks) with no dominant leader, maintaining a vase shape. The pinnately compound leaflets are very light and airy, and provide soft, dappled shade below. Since Thornless Honeylocust is also one of the last trees to leaf out in springtime and one of the first to lose its leaves in fall, it is one of the few trees well-suited for growing a lawn beneath it. The tiny leaflets turn golden yellow in fall before dropping and are so small they easily vanish into the grass below, without any raking being necessary.
The Shademaster is highly drought tolerant, and also tolerates clay, loam, sand, acidic, occasionally wet, alkaline, and well-drained soils. It has winter interest due to unusual form and in mature trees, the bark becomes very dark making for a striking appearance against white snow and blue sky.