Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’

At a Gardeners’ Question Time the other evening, there was a question about the tree Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’, and whether there were any alternatives. I was only too happy to answer this, as this is one of my all-time least favourite plants.

I can see the attraction (just). In spring, the soft yellow of its emerging, fluttering leaves are exactly what’s wanted. But come August, I have had enough of it. Aesthetic considerations apart, it has serious drawbacks. It is often recommended as suitable for small gardens. It emphatically isn’t – not only is it very fast growing, but it will make a huge tree, taller than a house, and the stems are viciously thorny.


Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' has attractive leaves - but little else to recommend it

So why am I talking about it now? A stormy weekend is forecast, and there is a real danger that, if you grow this tree, branches will be ripped from it – they are notoriously brittle, and simply cannot stand up to strong winds. Should this happen, my recommendation would be to cut your losses and get rid of it. If you need something similar to replant, why not try Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ – much more elegant, even if its yellow leaves turn green by mid-summer.

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