Black Locust trees are native to the southeastern United States but have have been widely planted in the eastern half of the country. It is considered an invasive species in certain areas because of its habit of spreading by underground stems. This unique ability to sprout new trees by underground stems makes Black Locust a sustainable wood if properly managed. A single tree can be left behind secure in the knowledge that it will rejuvenate the stand by the spreading stems. The tree grows very rapidly in it's juvenile stage and easily reaches 60 feet tall, with specimens being over 100 feet tall with trunk diameters approaching 4 feet.
The wood is extremely hard, resistant to rot, and very long lasting - making it prized for a wide variety of outdoor applications including boat building. The reason for the rot resistance is the presence of tyloses and extractives in the wood. Tyloses are bulges of plant tissue that make the wood water tight. Extractives are compounds found outside the cell wall of certain plants that can impart water resistance, and have antifungal properties. So the reason Black Locust wood is rot resistant is a unique combination of physical and chemical properties. Black Locust is not a new fad, but a species with a long history of real world projects that prove its durability. In fact, one of the studies of Black Locust rot resistance still widely used today was published in 1949 by the US Department Of Agriculture. The wood also undergoes minimal shrinkage, and if properly dried has excellent dimensional stability. Its extreme hardness will require the use of pilot holes when nailing or fastening the wood. If properly fastened the first time the stability of the wood results in little chance of loosening of nails, screws or fasteners.
Black Locust wood is being actively promoted as an alternative to endangered tropical hardwoods. The Rainforest Alliance promotes it as one of the most preferred alternatives to tropical hardwoods in outdoor applications. Not only are rainforest trees harvested in an unsustainable manner, the carbon footprint necessary to bring the product to market from far off countries is massive.
If you are looking for a stable, rot resistant, beautifully colored and grained wood - Black locust wood is the perfect choice, and Black Locust lumber is one of the largest suppliers in the northeastern United States.