Texas Tech's Honey Locust Tree Crowned Largest in the State

The tree, located south of the Administration Building, stands 56 feet tall with a crown spread of 77 feet.

Locust Tree

In a place not not known for its forest landscape, a honey locust tree, located south of the Administration Building on the Texas Tech University campus, recently was crowned the king of its kind by the Texas A&M Forest Service for being the largest honey locust tree in the state. This is the second tree from Lubbock County and the first from Texas Tech to be added to the Texas Big Tree Registry, a listing of the largest trees of every species found in the state. 

“I’m proud of our university,” said Mike Quartaro, senior superintendent for Grounds Maintenance. “This is the first tree we’ve had in the Texas Big Tree Registry for Texas Tech. We’re excited to have finally made the list.”

The tree was officially measured in 2013 and compared to other honey locust trees in the state using a tree index. The index determines a score by combining the trunk circumference in inches, tree height in feet and one-quarter of the average crown spread in feet.

Locust Tree

(l-r) Dewey Shroyer, Mike Quartaro, Jonathan Motsinger and Charles Leatherwood.

Scientifically known as Gleditsia triacanthos, Texas Tech’s tree has a circumference of 115 inches (9.5 feet), a height of 56 feet and a crown spread of 77 feet, giving it a tree index of 190 points.

Jonathan Motsinger, staff forester for the Texas A&M Forest Service, officially measured the tree and nominated it for the registry.

“This tree is just tremendous,” Motsinger said. “Its girth really makes the difference when you compare it to other trees of the same species.”

According to Dewey Shroyer, former managing director of Grounds Maintenance, the tree was planted in the early 1960s, making it more than 50 years old. The tree was planted before the Preston Smith statue was erected and the brick work done around the Administration Building.

Texas Tech has approximately 8,000 trees throughout campus and has continually grown in the past few years with campus beautification projects.

Locust Tree

The honey locust tree is hardy and can grow up to 70 feet tall. Growing at a rate of 24 inches per year, the tree grows quickly and produces small, greenish-yellow blossoms that are notably fragrant and have a honey-like substance in its pods.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the purpose of the Big Tree Registry is to recognize owners and nominators of the state’s largest trees and stimulate a greater public appreciation of trees.

As of today, the forest service recognizes 320 native or naturalized tree species that qualify for the list.

For more information about the Texas A&M Forest Service or the Texas Big Tree Registry, visit http://tfsweb.tamu.edu/TexasBigTreeRegistry/.

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