Purple robe locust tree.

jesse_1966March 18, 2007

Today is March 18 2007 and I need to know when I can expect to see buds showing followed by leaves followed by flowers. Is this tree a late bloomer vs all other basic trees in the neighborhood? Everything is blooming leaves and flowers and my purple robe locust tree is still bare with no buds showing. I did scratch the bark to see if still green and it is very much so. What am I expecting to see and when? I have until the 29th of April, 2007 to return it within the 1 year warranty from Lowes.

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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Where are you located? Knowing that will help with advice.

Since your member page only says in the USA, that doesn't really help....

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 9:38PM
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I have the same problem although I bought mine at a nursery and planted it last sept. It was a wet winter and I followed all directions. It has buds, some complex but no bursting through to green yet. I live in Northern New Mexico, southeast of Santa Fe.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 6:49PM
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Related thread . . .

Here is a link that might be useful: Purple Robe

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:21PM
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I have 7 purple robed locusts and they're all showing growth now. The big one is most established (1 year 3 months) and getting leaves. The other 6 (in the ground here 6 months) are all getting swelling nobbies. Even though they're said to like heat and be drought tolerate when established, I've been watering my babies and they seem to like that a lot. The big one had spectacular showy bright purple-violet flowers last year. It did so well I bought 6 more from forestfarm.com. These are great trees!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 7:16PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The long, straight brittle branches of young, rapidly growing Robinia are prone to breakage. You may want to ease up on the watering.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 12:22AM
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Watering makes the branches break more easily? I didn't know that. OK, will be careful.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 12:37AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Faster growth is weaker.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 2:55PM
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I have one and was also worried last year when it was not blooming.I called the nursery and they assured me it was a late bloomer. A week later it bloomed. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:33PM
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Here's the first one I planted, up on a raised bed about 20" that makes our patio. The patio has rocks and Scotch & Irish moss and full sun, burning south and west summer sun, so I wanted a tree with agressive roots that liked heat but could tolerate copious winter rains, that would bind the soil throughout the patio and then roots would grow down and hit the streamlet alongside patio perimeter. This tree was planted December 2005 and has taken off! Wish the nursery hadn't limbed it up so high. It was their last purple robe and was crowded with lots of other trees. This one is just starting to drop its luscious purple leis, May 20, 2007.

2 of the purple robed locusts I planted in September expired; they couldn't handle the sudden hot temps and then long hard freezes. But all the rest are doing really well. Love these trees!


    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 1:32AM
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Just wanted to share a close of our purple robe blooms taken this morning. It is in full bloom now and the smell is just unbelievable- like gardenias. Makes me feel like I'm in the tropics :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 6:35PM
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I have a purple robe locust tree in my front yard. It is growing very fast, 25' in five years. But in the summer it sheds a lot of yellow leaves. It is realy mess. What should I do to stop the leave shed? Please help.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 3:43PM
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Yellow leaves? It either needs a lot more water or less water.

In the fall it naturally turns yellow and drops its leaves when it starts getting cold. Otherwise, I've seen one in my neighborhood that doesn't get watered and it drops yellow leaves. Mine does that if I water it too much.

Also, for the first time there's squirrels running up and down the tree and they've broken a few twigs which then have leaves turning yellow and dropping.

This is a beautiful tough agressively rooting tree which can withstand drought once established but does really like supplemental water when it's hot.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Thank you for the information. I think it may be caused by hot weather and water. I am watering the front lawn Monday, Wednesdat and Friday for 30 minutes. Is it too less? Last week the temperature at Sacramento reached 100 degree of Fahrenheit.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 1:19PM
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30 minutes 3X a week in 100 degree weather?
That wouldn't be enough water in my yard in Oregon.
Also, running a sprinkler isn't enough -- I have to deep-water the wells of all my trees to soak the entire root balls. The sprinkler basically waters the thirsty grass and clover which I'm using for a few years as a mulch cover to protect the ground from the scorching searing sun. In a few years, with over 300 potentially giant trees planted, the resulting shade will eliminate the grass. It's a forest succession kind of experiment.

Try watering your locust gently with a diffused hose nozzle for at least 10 minutes and watch how it responds over a few days.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 8:38PM
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"30 minutes 3X a week in 100 degree weather?
That wouldn't be enough water in my yard in Oregon."

Keep in mind the soils in Orygun are a bit different than in other parts of the USA...so waterings habits/methods can be different (at least Sac., CA is a bit closer than others on the list).

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 11:34PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Good idea on deep watering shade trees, especially relatively young ones, during hot dry weather.

But, I'd offer a little different approach. Buy a soaker hose that will go around the tree at its drip line (where the outer most branches reach to). About every 3 weeks or so during the hottest part of the year turn it on slow and let it run for hours. Get out a rod and see if you can get it to go in at least 18 inches. If not, water some more.

As suggested above, varying soils will accept water slower or faster, and how much you turn on the hose varies, so you have to check it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 4:29PM
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Thank you for the help. It is working. I watering the tree every day this week, the tree produces much less yellow leaves. The soil here is clayey soil. After 15 minutes water start runing off the lawn. I changed the watering time to 15 minutes and watering every day. So it is working.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 7:26PM
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Well, after that nice cool cloudy spell we just had, my big purple robe locust got yellow leaves throughout its interior. Could also be I watered it too much considering the cool weather. It's done this before and stopped the yellowing when it gets hot and sunny. Hot and sunny today.

There are 2 new baby suckers coming up! 1 on each side of the tree about 3 feet from the trunk. I am thrilled because the trunk is tall and straight with no branches (overpruned at nursery) for a long way up. This will get foliage around the trunk and I can judiciously shape the suckers into nice well-behaved treelets (maybe; we'll see what the years bring). In any case free trees free trees, want more of the purple robe locusts!

One of the suckers is coming up at the cottage stone retaining wall where the roots have run into the unmoveable blockage and must now go down 2' where they'll be able to then go out about 1' and hit a nice wet streamlet.

Hoping if I keep the several purple robe locusts in the yard watered and happy the borers won't be attracted. Inspect my trees every day for problems so I can pounce very fast if/when things go wrong.

I love this tree! Lovely shade, so graceful waving in the breeze. Birds happy flitting about in it too.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:41PM
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My tree has the same problem again. I look around same trees on my neighbors lots they all have the same problem of yellow leaves. Big trees have more yellow leaves than small trees. I think this may be the nature of this tree.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 3:40PM
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Holy cow that is a LOT of water you are feeding these 'drought-tolerant' trees!

I live in the desert southwest (temps 100-115 June through the end of August) clay soil and mine gets a DEEP watering (2-3 hours on slow drip) once a week. It's never had yellow leaves.

The city I live in also has purple robe locust planted as street trees along the main road in the city and they water them once a week, slow drip, for several hours.

Like someone else said though, its all about how your soil holds the water. Maybe you have very good draining soil :)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 2:35PM
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I have three of those trees in my yard and they have the same problem. But I don't just see yellow leaves, but also brown spots, which makes me believe that my trees have soms sort of fungi problem.

They are older trees, by the way, and do not need much watering. I love the flowers in spring, but just HATE the suckers that are popping up really everywhere in my garden, apparently coming up from it's own roots. And they grow fast! I'm have to pull out new ones at least once a week!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 3:43PM
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My tree roots have got into the main yard and runners are all over the grass.Now I have little trees wanting too grow How can i stop this from happening
Bill Swift

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 3:07PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

As far as I can tell, you can do one of 3 things: take down the parent tree(s), make sure they aren't under ANY stress (water, heat, diease, insects, etc.), or resign yourself to mowing the sprouts as long as you live there.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 5:15PM
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Well, the larger overpruned purple robe locust we planted December 2005 has grown exponentially and has started sprouting on the ground. This tree has been pampered and it is not stress sending up new baby trees. Our weather has been peculiar with heavy cloud cover but no rain -- trees think Autumn has started. This locust gets watered every day (in patio raised bed), fertilized 3X year, etc.

I'm happy about the sprouts because I want more trees, and these are free, just have to let them get strong and then carefully extract them with their own roots and plant them elsewhere. Gorgeous tree.

If I had a lawn and locust sprouts were coming up I'd just mow that area a little more frequently.

Just wish the inner leaves weren't turning yellow and falling in mass now -- love the shade this tree provides on the patio. The summer sun is still hot!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 7:19AM
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First I won't cut it down it's about 30' tall and real pretty.This problem just started I thought there might be a way too stop this from happening
Thanks for the help

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 1:49PM
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I think I have another problem for my purple rose locust tree now. My tree developed several very long cracks of bark on the tree trunk, about 4' to 6' long. Some barks have already peeled off from the trunk, because both sides of the bark (about 8" wide) have cracks. The bark is only connected on the top and bottom. All my beighbor's trees have similar problem. The cracks are about 1" wide. I do know what to do. May be I could not do anything. I hope the tree will not die.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 5:14PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

"I'm happy about the sprouts because I want more trees, and these are free, just have to let them get strong and then carefully extract them with their own roots and plant them elsewhere. Gorgeous tree."

Sorry to be the bearer of potentially unwanted news, but when I let a sucker grow off the root of my Purple robe locust, the baby grew up to be a black locust. White flowers, fewer of them and some thorns on the branches. I'm guessing my tree (that the previous owner planted) was budded to a the more vigorous black locust rootstock.

I don't know about yours, but, I'd say the odds are fair you may not get purple robe locust.

The one on the right is off the root of the Purple Robe on the left in bloom.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:09PM
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rcnaylor, I think you're right about my suckers. They have bigger thorns than the purple robe. But I like the white too and the black locust is vigorous.

Your black locust looks pretty! A little denser and greener than the purple robe. My purple is also a bit splayed out like that.

Time will tell. Running out of room for trees so may have to plant the most hardy / drought tolerant around the neighborhood. Really like the swaying fluttering leaves and dappled shade of locust trees.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:34PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

That's a good way to look at it cascadiens. My black locust was a whip about five feet tall in 2000. Now it is bigger than the parent tree, and like you notice, denser.

It has some thorns, but they are not too numerous and have been no problem for me.

Way to see the silver lining.

And, there is still a chance your purple robe wasn't grafted.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 9:48PM
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I see a posting about bark splitting on this tree, my tree is going into it's third year, it is a beautiful tree but since the first it has had bark splitting, other wise a healthy tree, I have not been able to learn what this problem could be. Any ideas? I live in zone 5.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 6:13PM
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The bark on mine split all the way up the trunk, huge gash, right after planting late Dec05 because it froze, 11 degrees in yard for 3 weeks day after planting. But that gash has healed with very thick trunk curling around -- though still visible. The tree is really growing now, getting these big ropelike roots snaking all over the patio weaving under flagstones. Bought this trees for this raised patio figuring the aggressive roots would bind patio together and its working.

Soon as it gets sunny enough I'll take pix of the trunk flare, gash, big snaking roots, outline, and multiple black locust suckers, then post those on this thread. Also the other newer purple robe trees. Can now see the 1st one from 2 streets away.

The trunk has huge flare even though chainlinked and that flare bark is splitting because the trunk is growing so fast its skin can't keep up.

All the other purple robes are growing now like mad, very happy they've adjusted. They're not leafing yet but swelling and elongating branches and thickening dramatically. Also bought a Shademaster Honey Locust planted last spring which has taken and looks good, growing. It's green though, not golden, but I need the shade.

I check the healing split in the big purple robe because I'm worried insects will get in, but so far so good. After this summer I think the scar will have toughened enough to not be inviting to insects. Besides, there's lots of bird feeders near it and the birds pounce on insects, LOL

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 6:55PM
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OK, here are promised pictures of above, original (Dec05) purple robe locust tree in my yard, now getting bigger. I love this tree for its fast growth and lovely dappled shade over my deck in summer, the spectacular flowers in spring, and the perches it provides the birds all year. Keeping those black locust suckers through the summer so they root well then will transplant some next winter after leaves have fallen and they've gone dormant. This Wednesday we plan to cover those roots with a thin layer of dirt and then wormcast this tree which, judging by the other wormcasted trees, will double its size within one year.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 3:54PM
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Winter pictures 3/13/08 of 2 other newer purple robe locust trees in the yard, growing very fast. The 3 other newer ones are hard to get photos of, will try in a couple days in supposed sunshine coming.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 4:03PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

One of them has terrible cracks in its bark.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 4:06PM
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Yep, been writing about that throughout this thread, freezer split from day after it was planted Dec05, the big purple robe. It's fine now. Should have taken pictures when it split, just awful, all my 200+ initial trees did the same thing, 11 degrees in the yard for 3 straight weeks beginning day after planting. After the $$$, time, planting prep (totally from scratch) and planting investment I was so freaked out, did lose some trees, but it was the mole who demolished the yard that next spring that killed the most trees.

Anyway we have lots of thriving trees now and a list of replacement wishes for any that croak, very stuffed yard, exciting to see how well a lot of trees are doing.

Because that big purple robed locust is planted in a raised bed patio by our deck, it is commanding a prominent spot in the yard and can be seen 2 blocks away.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 4:14PM
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Mine is smaller than the ones in your photos and the cracking is worse, I have wondered about the growth being so fast it cracks the bark as I planted mine after the last frost three springs ago and got the cracking late summer. Lots more cracking this spring, seems to be trying to heal itself, I will watch for insect invasion and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:57PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

In both cases it would be likely to be sun exposure, in the first instance during the winter and the second the summer. Norway maple is also known to be prone to this. Wrapping is recommended.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 1:07PM
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bboy, what do you use to wrap and would the bark not get fungus and insects if was wrapped all the time?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 12:21PM
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Just found this thread. Love love love Purple Robes. I think mine are from someone's suckers since they have huge obnoxious thorns. Still love the trees, tho.

One thing about last year's postings regarding yellowing of leaves: I have tree borers in my purple robes. It doesn't kill my trees, but the leaves turn yellow, or just black and fall off. Then it gets a second growth of leaves before fall. They've been doing this for the past 9 years. I'm an organic gardener, so don't treat them, just fertilize, etc.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 6:30PM
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Pictures of 3 of my purple robes in their glory this Spring. Have 3 others: 1 can't get a pic, too many trees and growing on precipice of yard; 1 in front, pix in camera, and 1 along west side that died but sprouted from trunk and is too small to flower yet.

So here are the 3 easy-to-photo ones:

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 1:43PM
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I planted a purple robe locust about six years ago and today it is a robust 30ft tree that provides wonderful filtered shade and profuse purple blooms in spring. It has also destroyed my yard. There are a hundred or more suckers coming up thirty or forty feet away from the tree. I canÂt pull them fast enough. They come up in the lawn, in planter beds, in a gravel path, even between flagstones in a patio. The tree is coming down and I can only imagine that it will haunt me for many years to come. In this zone (usda 9, full sun, clay soil), this tree is invasive.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 1:53PM
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Mine is throwing up suckers fast too so I just snip them at the ground with a clipper, easy, where I don't want a black locust tree growing up. Crazy to cut down a big tree because of little suckers. Just walk around with a pruner and a bucket and in a few minutes you're done. Cutting down the tree will cause MORE suckering as the root systems want to live.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 5:17PM
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Well, I know I may sound extreme, but IÂm truly not exaggerating when I say "hundreds" of suckers. I canÂt prune them all. I donÂt see them all and I mow them over until they get stocky and more robust at the base. I read here, or on another site, that gophers nibbling on the root system may be eliciting this response from the tree for the same reason you suggest that I would generate more suckers by cutting it down. What I was really looking for on this site is any tips to suppress the suckers, if there are any? Or, to find suggestions for another tree that does not have this same characteristic.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 11:59AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Oh, I am so glad I found this thread!
My Purple Robe is destroying my neighbor's lawn with all of the suckers. It gets yellow leaves that fall into the pond and cover the patio every time the temp goes above 95, and I'm in a hot inland valley in Socal. I have an old black locust that is very well behaved, so I am still in shock and upset about this tree. It took it four years to begin behaving badly.

Has anyone cut theirs down? What happens with the suckers? If I can't find the answer on the search engine, I'll post a new query. I'm on my way now to my neighbor's back yard to kill sprouts.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 4:37PM
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Is it this invasive in the desert? I can protect the tree until it is about 10 feet tall from too much wind or scorching sun, but after that it is on it's own. The only way I could protect it though during that time is in a spot that is with a few feet of two roofs and a few feet away from some concrete. If I planted this tree in a plastic trash can in the ground would the roots break through the sides of the can? I noticed that in even the very tall trees the poster was still using tree stakes (with chains nontheless), is this necessary?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 5:26AM
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The only place I had the nerve to plant one of these, several years ago, was a fair-sized bed surrounded by concrete. I put down some good landscape fabric and covered that with a decorative rock mulch. So far so good, other than some summer leaf yellowing & dropping this year. In a way, it looks nutritional, like an iron deficiency, but could also be a response to a long dry period. Which could also mean it isn't taking up much iron :-). Thinking about applying a bit of supplemental FE and giving it a good soaking. I have otherwise never watered this tree beyond it's first two summers.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 11:42PM
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Mine is staked and chainlocked because it towers right over my house and is in a wind tunnel. Will be moving the chainlock after all the leaves drops this fall, but will never remove the ties entirely. Planted Dec05 before I knew what I was doing, idiotic place in the wind. Lots of dead branches up there though and will be cutting those out soon so wind will whistle through.

Welllllllll folks are right about the suckering. Good Lord the roots of this tree go everywhere! Mine are young amidst 300 other trees but I'm watching those roots travel. We've let a lot of suckers grow, resulting in many black locust saplings which creates a jungle and was so appreciated for shade during the longest hottest heat wave recently in history in the PacNW.

This January we'll be thinning the locust herd when everything is cold and dormant. The suckers are not hard to cut down.

All my purple robed locust trees grew robustly this summer. They are all well watered. None turned yellow, and all kept blooming sparsely after the initial spring profusion.

The birds like these trees. Give them 3 years to establish and enjoy the explosion of growth and lovely purple flowers! This is the tree the neighbors seem to notice and like most. Very showy and leaves easy to clean up.

BTW also planted a shademaster locust which in comparison is extremely slow and spindly.

The black locust suckers grow fastest and are robust and full, thicker than any other locust I've planted or seen grow around here. If you need a lot of trees this is one way to do it, LOL

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 9:24AM
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I live in Southern Ontario and we just had a flash thunderstorm one hour ago and now my 5 year old purple robed locust is on the ground with its roots all broken. I have one more of these trees 3 years old. I do not want to loss it the same way. What should I do? What kind of a root system do these trees have?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 8:03PM
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We recently bought a house. Of the trees in the yard is a Purple Robe Locust. It is very old looking, and doesn't look too healthy. (Cracked all along the trunk and it is growing really weird. It has a two foot trunk and then one big branch that shoots off in a 45* angle.) I am worried the branch will break and it will die. And I haven't seen any at our local garden stores. We live in Missoula, MT. There were no seed pods this year and the few shoots that have come up haven't been in the right places. Can I clip a small branch and start it that way? I have a couple family members who would like one too. What would cause it to not produce seed pods? It did bloom twice....

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks! Fawn.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 1:57PM
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Hey Fawn:
We live in the Coeur d'Alene area and found a fairly mature tree at a nursery here last year (Aspen Nursery). If you can't find one in Missoula, and are willing to take a 2 hr. trip this way, you surely would find one here. Starting from the branch may not result in the same variety of tree, but I've never tried on a purple locust so cannot say for certain. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 11:29PM
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i have a black that bloomed purple, it snapped in a storm and i was so sad as my son got it for me, well ....the suckers grew and i let two grow and they are blooming white now, why ? i just love this tree.wish it was still purple. any hope ?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 10:34PM
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Nope, no hope, it was a grafted tree. Your Purple robe is gone, and now what you are seeing is the common black locust rootstock growing in its place.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:09AM
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Dan Staley

Yes, we see several stories in this thread why one should avoid this tree. Just because the blooms are pretty and you want one real bad doesn't make it a good choice.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:54PM
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2 years old both years tree was beautiful and healthy ,i trimmed it in oct now it has no growth or bulbs cut branch off was brittle and allwhite no green. it is now may 10th,ithink its dead

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:50PM
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We just had a large branch off the main trunk of our 5 year old purple locust split off...now a good 12 inch section of the main trunk is exposed...any suggestions on how to save the tree? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 8:32PM
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I have a purple robe locust in So Cal. Its been planted about 3 years and the trunk has a serious split in it running just about the entire trunk length. The leaves are falling off and it just looks sickly. I love the tree and would hate for it to die on me. Does anyone know what Im not doing right?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 11:28PM
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I have big trouble with one of my 7 Purple Robe Locust trees. All look healthy except for this one. It made a feeble attempt to blossom and leaf out. The blossoms died off within 3 days. Now it has very minimal green leafing all over the tree (not just in one area) but the leaves wither in the middle of the day and look crispy. Late in the day close to sunset there is again minimal green leafing which lasts through to morning. I had a arborist look at it, he saw no borers and no obvious reason why it shouldn't be as healthy as the others. I've given it some SuperThrive but I'm afraid I'm going to lose it. If anyone has suggestions please help!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 3:03PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I love the look of these trees (both the purple ones as well as species Robinia pseudoacacia) in bloom.

However, I've never planted one, since they sucker like crazy...and are susceptible to locust leafminer that makes them look dead all summer. Although it does seem that the leafminers are less of a problem on freestanding specimens than forest trees.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 3:44PM
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