Mt. Lebanon Cemetery
Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Estimated Height: 68 feet
Diameter Breast Height: 70.38 inches
Circumference Breast Height: 221 inches
Estimated Age: 200+ years
This former Pennsylvania State Champion (back the 1980's) is almost completely forgotten about as it slowly returns to the cemetery grounds. This tree provides much life and beauty in this place of rest as many insects, birds, mammals, fungus and plants live in and on its slowly rotting trunk. The attributes of this tree are seemingly endless — for example, its durability in the ground (used as fenceposts), and the wonderful fragrance of the flowers from which bees make excellent honey. It has the highest beam strength of any North American tree, and it is used to stabilize erosion-prone slopes and to reclaim mining sites. It fixes nitrogen in its roots, is extremely resistant to pollution and, for this reason, was planted along rail lines in England. The roots have a sweet licorice flavor, and a cord of seasoned locust has the same Btu potential as a ton of anthracite coal — the highest fuel value of any American tree.
Excerpt from the article: "The Tree on Which the United States Was Built." By Wesley Greene, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation:
As the strongest timber in North America, black locust helped build Jamestown and hardened the navy that decided the War of 1812, yet today few Americans have heard of it. The nation's taste in ornamental trees has changed fairly dramatically since the first street plantings were made in Williamsburg, Virginia, in the 1730s.
Of all the trees favored by our colonial predecessors, both as an ornamental and as a utilitarian tree, the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is perhaps the most significant. It is first mentioned by William Strachey, a member of the 1609 resupply mission to Jamestown. The extreme resistance to rotting is perhaps the black locust's best-known attribute, and it was on poles of black locust that the first buildings in Jamestown were erected.
This tree photographed was also mentioned in the book "Familiar Trees of American" by William C. Grimm 1967.
Nominated by: Joe Stavish, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania