Trees, trunks and branches armed with simple or branched thorns. Leaves pinnate and/or bipinnate. Stipules minute, caducous. Inflorescences axillary, racemose, solitary or fasciculate, rarely paniculate; bracts and bracteoles absent at anthesis; pedicels articulate. Flowers perfect or imperfect, unisexual or bisexual, the plants dioecious or polygamous. Petals 3-5, subequal, imbricate, not clawed. Stamens 5-10, exserted in male and bisexual flowers, reduced in female; filaments free, more or less equal; anthers longitudinally dehiscent. Ovary subsessile in female or bisexual flowers, rudimentary or absent in male, 2-30-ovuled; style short; stigma terminal, often 2-lobed. Seeds transverse, broadly ellipsoid to subquadrate, compressed, albuminous.
Asia-Temperate: Korea present, Asia-Tropical: India present; Laos (Laos present); Philippines (Philippines present); Sulawesi (Sulawesi present); Vietnam (Vietnam present), Caspian Sea present, Eastern North America present, Japan present, Southern America
About 14 species, 2 or 3 in eastern North America, 1 in southern South America, c. 1 around the Caspian Sea, 1 in Malesia (Philippines and Celebes), the rest in India, Laos, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan..
The original spelling of the generic name Gleditsia is to be retained and is not to be altered to Gleditschia. See International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (1994) Art. 60.7, Ex. 9.