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~ Robinia pseudoacacia 'Twisty Baby' ~

Here's a tree worthy of being a focal point in the connoisseur's garden.

Robinia pseudoacacia, the black locust, is a pest and drought-resistant native of North America. 'Twisty Baby' is a horticultural selection, propagated by grafting, with contorted branches and leaves.

What makes the tree especially appealling is the tightly growing leaf clusters that hang down, very much like wisteria blooms. Because black locusts produce new terminal growth all summer long, until leaf fall in autumn, the growing tips are always a fresh apple green color; the leaflets curl up, showing a greyish underside, and the mature leaves a deep, bluish green. The lovely multi-tone effect thus created lasts the entire summer. In winter, the twisted branches have great character as well.

The leading branches of this fast grower (45 cm per year, though some of the growth is downward) can be trained easily by the artistic gardener to a shape that will emphasize their contorted nature, especially when grown as a multi-stemmed specimen. It can reach a height exceeding 3 m, spreading almost as much.

Black locusts bloom on mature trees, but 'Twisty Baby' does not bloom reliably. When it does, it produces hanging clusters of white, pea-like blooms with a sweet fragrance; understated, yet spectacular.

Definitely worthy of being grown as a specimen, away from visual distractions so that it might be viewed against the sky.

Robinia pseudoacacia and its cultivars are exceedingly susceptible to the locust borer. For tips to control this inevitable and very destructive pest, consult this page on locust borer control.


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The specimen on the right was photographed in July 2004, in the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The cultivar 'Twisty Baby' is expected to hardy to zone 4, like the parent species. Some sources report hardiness to USDA 3.

Site, Soil and Habit
The tree is very accomodating of soil types, is drought and pest resistant but will respond favorably to rich, well-drained, moist soil. Prefers a sunny location.

By grafting on Robinia pseudoacacia rootstock or top graft, and by tissue culture.

Robinia pseudoacacia 'Twisty Baby' Links

Les jardins de Jean-Pierre - Quebec supplier.
Hortico - Ontario supplier.

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