Size: Up to 30 feet (9 m) tall, however, much shorter when observed in thickets (10 feet (3 m).
Growth Form: New Mexico Locust is a tree or large shrub, plants are spiny and form thickets.
Leaves: New Mexico Locust has green leaves, pinnatelycompound; the leaves have a pair of sharp thorns at the base.
Flower Color: New Mexico Locust has showy purple, white or purplish-pink pea-like flowers that hang in dense clusters, flowers are fragrant and the fruit is a 3 inch (7.6 cm) hairy pod containing several seeds.
Flowering Season: April or May to July or August across it's range.
Elevation: 4,000 to 8,500 feet (1,219 - 2,591 m) across it's wide geographic range.
Habitat Preferences: Along streams, sides of canyons and in conifer forests where they may form thickets, often with Gambel Oak, Quercus gambelii; prefers rocky, sandy and clay soils.
Recorded Range: New Mexico Locust is native to the southwestern United States in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and perhaps Wyoming. This species is found primarily in Arizona and New Mexico and in Nevada.
Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 4 species and 11 accepted taxa overall for Robinia. Worldwide, World Flora Online includes 57 accepted species names and a further 9 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and Nevada each have 2 species of Robinia and California, New Mexico, Texas and Utah each have 3 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.
There are 2 varieties in Robinia neomexicana;
Robinia neomexicana var. neomexican, New Mexico Locust (Recorded Range above)
Robinia neomexicana var. rusbyi, Rusby's Locust (SE Arizona and western NM only)
Comments: New Mexico Locust is a rhizomatous tree or shrub that grows alone or as a co dominant under-story plant with Gambel Oak and other higher elevations species (pines and firs).
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
New Mexico Locust, Robinia neomexicana, has attractive flowers, the flowers, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar and protection through cover.
The flowers are known to attract bees and hummingbirds, nectar insects and fruit eating mammals and birds.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
New Mexico Locust, Robinia neomexicana, has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited or used by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, native bees and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.
New Mexico Locust, is a larval host, adult food or visited by;
Autochton cellus, Golden Banded-Skipper;
Erynnis funeralis, Funereal Duskywing;
Epargyreus clarus , Silver-spotted Skipper;
Euclea dolliana, Slug Caterpillar Moths;
Eurema mexicana, Mexican Yellow;
Learn more at Butterflies and Moths of North America, (BAMONA).
****Special Value to Native Bees****
According to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, New Mexico Locust, Robinia neomexicana, is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of Native bees. Click here for more information on their Pollinator Conservation Program.
The genus “Robinia” was named in honor of Jean Robin (1559-1629) of Paris; Mr. Robin was a French botanist, herbalist, gardener and curator of the botanical garden of the Paris Faculty of Medicine.