Brazos Bend State Park
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Gator Hatch

Twelve Trees of Brazos Bend State Park


Gleditsia aquatica

DECIDIOUS—Grows to a height of 60 feet.

LEAVES: Once or twice compound. Each leaf is 5-10” long, pinnae 3 to 8 pairs with 12-20 leaflets which are opposite, dark green above, paler and smooth below. Leaflets are 1/2-1” long, 1/4-1/2” wide.

BARK: Dull gray to reddish brown in color. Branches have sharp spines, 3-5” long which are dark red and shiny.

FLOWERS: Appear in May-June. Small clusters of green flowers on purple stems grow in a raceme which is 3-4” long. The flower spray arises from the point where a leaf is attached to a branch.

FRUIT: Ripens Sept.-Oct-.Seed pods hang in groups. They are 1” wide and 1-2” long, thin walled, tough and papery. Color is chestnut brown and pod is shiny. Seeds, 1-3 in a pod, are flat, nearly round, 1/2” wide and orange brown in color.

Likes swampy, wet sites for growth.

As noted above, sharp spines, single or branched, may be found on this tree, however, you may find a specimen that is spineless. The wood is light reddish brown with a ring of yellow sapwood. Wood is strong, heavy and hard, however, it has little commercial value except locally for posts and fuel.

Look for an example of this tree along the waters edge down the hill from the Nature Center.

Updated: Aug 12, 2011