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The tree was identified in 1607 at Jamestown by British colonists, who used the timber to build houses. The tree was named for its resemblance to Ceratonia siliqua, known as the "Old World Locust".
Jesuit missionaries apparently fancied that this was the tree that supported St. John in the wilderness, but it is native only to North America. It was introduced into Britain in 1636.
Robinia is a native North American genus, but traces of it are found in the Eocene and Miocene rocks of Europe. The genus is named after the royal French gardeners Jean Robin and his son Vespasien Robin, who introduced the plant to Europe in 1601. A black locust planted by Vespasien Robin still exists in the Square René Viviani in Paris. - Wikipedia