Sunburst® Honeylocust

Botanical Name: Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Suncole’ 

The Sunburst Honeylocust is a cultivar of the Honey Locust, Gleditsia triacanthos. This tree is found growing naturally in the midwestern and eastern United States. Gleditsia is named after a director of the botanical gardens in Berlin in the eighteenth century, Johann Gottlieb Gleditsch. 

The variety ‘Inermis’ means thornless. Gleditsia triacanthos var. Inermis ‘Suncole’ is also known as the Sunburst Thornless Honeylocust as it does not grow thorns like the species does. This tree is very popular for its bright chartreuse-yellow foliage, unique only to the Sunburst Honeylocust. The bright foliage brings bright color as well as fine texture to a landscape, making the Sunburst a valuable landscaping tree. The Sunburst Honeylocust is slightly smaller than most of the other cultivars, except the Imperial Honeylocust. The tree has a rounded, irregularly shaped, pyramidal crown and it grows to a height of 35-40 feet with a spread of 30-35 feet.

The leaves of the Sunburst Honeylocust are pinnately compound and grow to a length of 6-8 inches. The fresh leaves emerge bright yellow in the spring and mature to a mid-green color in the summer. In the fall, they put on a beautiful golden yellow display. The twigs grow in a zig-zag pattern. The spring flowers are greenish yellow and inconspicuous and therefore don’t contribute to the beauty of the tree. The flowers, however, are fragrant and attract bees.

The Sunburst Honeylocust grows best in full sun. It grows well in urban environments, tolerating drought conditions and pollutants. It is also adaptable to different types of soils and conditions, wet or dry.

The Sunburst Honeylocust can be troubled by gall midge, which causes distortion of the twigs.


Height: 35-40 ft.

Width: 30-35 ft.

Shape: Round, Pyramidal

Flower Color: Greenish Yellow

Flowering Time: May-June

Fall Color: Golden Yellow

Features: Superior fall color, fine textured foliage

Exposure: Full Sun

Watering: Moderate & Regular

Soil: Prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil, but tolerant of a wide range of soils. Prefers a neutral pH.

Growth Rate: Fast

USDA Zones: 3-8

Uses: Street tree, shade tree, lawn tree, urban landscapes, habitat tree

Similar trees: Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Skyline' (Skyline® Honeylocust), Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Impcole' (Imperial® Honeylocust), Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Shademaster' (Shademaster® Honeylocust)