Backyard Delight: Black Locust Blooms

Aside from being so close to the railway and the city incinerator, I love my current address for its prolific blooms. As the season progresses, the first to arrive are snowdrops, followed by violets, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and irises. Then comes the dandelions as the weather warms and the day is prolonged. Now the highlight of the month is the black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia).

black locust

The major chemical components of the scent as revealed by headspace analysis include 54.6% δ-3-carene, 21% linalool, 3% (Z)-β-farnesene, and 3.9% anthranilate aldehyde. The prolific white blossoms hang from the trees like bunches of grapes, letting the warm, late-spring current carry their scent. They smell creamy, yet surprisingly fresh — somewhere between lactonic coconut and orange blossom. They make the night air sweet and redolent of the orange blossoms in Eau des Sens (Diptyque, 2015). Some people actually collect them for making fritters. Alas, the black locust blossoms are often gone in just a fortnight.


  1. Joulain, D. 1987. The composition of the headspace from fragrant flowers: further results. Flav. Fragr. J. 2:149-155
  2. Kamdem, D.P., Gruber, K., Barkman, T., and Gage, D.A. 1994. Characterization of black locust floral fragrance. J. Essential Oil Res. 6:199-200.

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