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The Japanese large-leaf Magnolia is our plant of the month May....
Gleditsia triacanthos „Shademaster“
A tree species that stands out with such good qualities is definitely worthy of Plant of the Month. Gleditsia triacanthos "Shademaster" is relatively young: it was cultivated in New Jersey in 1956. It is correspondingly common in North America. In temperate and subtropical regions it grows up to 30 metres high. In Central Europe, it is seen less frequently and when it does grow, it is 10, at most 15 to 20 metres tall.
The name: far more than smoke and mirrors
Gleditsia triacanthos is the botanical name of the three-thorned gleditschie. Also known as Christ's thorn, the trees have three individual thorns on their trunks and branches when they are young, which branch out over time. Some species retain thorns arranged in clusters even in adulthood. The 'Shademaster' is one of only a few varieties, however, that remains thornless. Because of its special branching, it is a master at providing shade and rightly bears the epithet "Shademaster".
The gleditschie is also called the leather pod tree. If it feels at home in its habitat, it develops leathery pods that hang low on the branches well into winter.
Tempting honey scent and other attractive features
The young trees want to grow tall quickly and grow rapidly with a slanting upward central shoot. After about ten years, the growth slows down and the branches now push out in a horizontal direction.
Despite their tall growth, gleditschias appear very filigree. This is due to the dark green leaves, which are reminiscent of ferns in their delicacy. The flowers are not particularly showy. Their fragrance is all the sweeter for it. Their nectar and pollen – a paradise for insects.
Besides its beautiful appearance, what makes the gleditschie an excellent urban tree and why should every larger garden have one? It tolerates drought and heat as well as gushing wetness and is not bothered by exhaust fumes, road salt and paving. It hardly ever gets sick, and pests ignore it. It is so frugal and resistant that even the most untalented gardener can do little wrong. The trees are only a touch sensitive to frost and wind.
With their vase-shaped or umbrella-like crown, gleditschias are excellent for lining avenues, grass verges, cemeteries, parks – and of course large and medium-sized gardens.