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Bristly locust

Rose acacia or Bristly locust
(Robinia hispida)

Perennial shrub in the pea family with rose-colored flowers and red bristly stalks.


Regulated areas of bristly locust
This species is Restricted (Orange counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Rose acacia, mossy locust
  • Scientific names: R. hispida var. fertilis, R. hispida var. hispida, Robinia grandiflora

Ecological threat:

  • Invades numerous habitat types: upland forests, forest edges, prairies, forested dunes, grasslands, roadsides, disturbed vacant areas.
  • Previously planted as fence rows, escaping cultivation.
  • Tolerant of many soils, but most readily colonizes light textured soils with good drainage, preferring sandy and silt loams.
  • Nitrogen-fixing microbial symbionts alter soil chemistry.
  • Expands creating dense thickets.
  • Seeds remain viable in the soil for 1-10 years.
  • Multiple sterile and nonsterile varieties exist, with both varieties naturalizing.

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for bristly locust was based upon this literature review developed by the department.


Leaves & stems: Alternate, pinnately compound leaves. Small round leaflets are bright green and paler on the underside. Stems covered in thick red bristles. Bark is grey-brown covered in raised lenticels.

Flowers, fruits & seeds: Rose-colored pea flowers. Seed pods are brown and flat, covered in dense reddish bristles.

Roots: Spreads by root suckering.


Robinia hispida
Counties in WI where bristly locust has been reported (as of July 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have bristly locust in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.



  • Pull small plants, use weed wrench on larger shrubs.
  • Remove all roots if possible and monitor for resprouts.


  • Use cut stump or basal bark herbicide techniques in fall with glyphosate or triclopyr.
  • Monitor for resprouts.


View bristly locust pictures in our photo gallery!


Sources for Content:

  • University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium.
  • Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Links for More Information:

Last revised: Monday June 03 2019