My last question provided me with a very thorough answer and I'm hoping for the same thing with this one.

Another kind of tree in my area (southeast Virginia) produces these long seed pods with seeds that are about the size of a sunflower seed (and look like it too). When the pods first fell, they were green in color. They are very long (longer than a pencil)_, and contain multiple seeds. They hung from the tree and look similar to a sweet pea pod.

Pod and Pencil


Tree Bark

What kind of tree produces these?

  • 2
    The first picture shows the fruit of a pencil tree, although it would be useful to know the size of the funny brown thing next to it to know the scale. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 22:28
  • 1
    From the pictures, it looks like it could be a honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), though I don't know if it's found in Virginia. The honey locust has small, pinnately compound leaves, and (nless it's a thornless cultivar) clusters of inch-long, sharp thorns. See e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_locust
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 4:22
  • @jamesqf those pods looks a lot more like mine. I think you may be correct. I don't think they have thorns, or at least not many. I have found some thorns on the ground.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


After waiting months for the leaves to return on the tree and reading the comment made by Jamesqf, this is a Honey Locust Tree.

On the Wikipedia page for the tree, there is a picture that matches what the pods look like before they ripen:


One thing I should point out from Jamesqf's comment is that this is a mostly thornless version of the tree. I did manage to find a small portion of the tree that had some thorns on it (though it's nothing like what the Wikipedia page shows):

Small thorn

According to the USDA, thornless versions are available, which is likely the kind my apartment complex purchased and planted:

Thornless and fruitless varieties are readily available through the nursery industry.

The leaves and bark also match what is found on this site.


I am going to say that the tree belongs to the Catalpa family. Here is a picture of the green bean pods.

In the autumn they bear 20–50 centimetres (7.9–19.7 in) long fruits that resemble a slender bean pod full of small flat seeds, each with two thin wings to aid in wind dispersal.

These trees have few limb droppage, but drop large dark-brown bean pods during late summer.

There are two subspecies in North America, Catalpa bignonioides (southern catalpa) and Catalpa speciosa (northern catalpa),.

The difference between the two is described as,

Northern and southern catalpas are very similar in appearance, but the northern species has slightly larger leaves, flowers, and bean pods.


and talking about the Southern species,

It is closely related to the Northern Catalpa (C. speciosa), and can be distinguished by the flowering panicles, which bear a larger number of smaller flowers, and the slightly slenderer seed pods.


  • Those pods don't look quite the same. Also, the linked Wikipedia articles show the regions of where those kinds of trees are located - both of which aren't in Virginia (at least not naturally). I suppose its possible the trees were placed there since they are within my apartment complexes grounds. I would say that between these two, it looks more like the Catalpa bignonioides, though the seed pods seen in the pictures for that tree don't look as wide, have a distinct line going down the middle of them, and appear to be brown to begin with.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 20:14
  • @TimmyJim Would you happen to have a picture of the leaves? I think the Wiki ranges are just the natural ones. I have seen pods like the ones pictured in Denver CO, so I think people have spread them around in urban areas. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 20:33
  • I'll try and see if I can find a leaf next time I'm out. I can't guarantee it'll be from the tree though since the leaves fell a while ago - nor if it will be picture worthy due to it drying up from the fall. If I remember right though, the leaves did look pretty similar to the picture above as well as for the other tree.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 20:36

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