Ceratonia siliqua Linnaeus, 1753
Common names: Carob tree, St John's-bread, Locust tree [En], Caroubier, Caroube [Fr], Johannisbrotbaum [De], Algarrobo, Caroba [Es], Carrubo, Carruba [It], Χαρουπιά, Ξυλοκερατιά [Gr], Keçiboynuzu, Harnup [Tu]
Vathi, SAMOS ● Greece
Etymology: Ceratonia siliqua derives from the Greek κεράτιον | kerátiοn, "fruit of the carob", from κέρας | keras, "horn", and Latin siliqua "pod, carob."
The term "carat", the unit by which gem weight is measured, is also derived from the Greek word κεράτιον | kerátiοn, alluding to an ancient practice of weighing gold and gemstones against the seeds of the carob tree by people in the Middle East. The system was eventually standardized, and one carat was fixed at 0.2 grams.
In late Roman times, the pure gold coin known as the solidus weighed 24 carat seeds (about 4.5 grams). As a result, the carat also became a measure of purity for gold. Thus 24-carat gold means 100% pure, 12-carat gold means the alloy contains 50% gold, etc.
Description: The Ceratonia siliqua tree grows up to 10 metres (33 ft) tall. The crown is broad and semi-spherical, supported by a thick trunk with brown rough bark and sturdy branches. Leaves are 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) long, alternate, pinnate, and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. It is frost-tolerant.
Most carob trees are dioecious.
The flowers are small and numerous, spirally arranged along the inflorescence axis in catkin-like racemes borne on spurs from old wood and even on the trunk (cauliflory); they are pollinated by both wind and insects. Male flowers produce a characteristic odour, resembling semen.
The fruit is a pod that can be elongated, compressed, straight or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen.
Biology: The trees blossom in autumn (September–October).
The ripe pods eventually fall to the ground and are eaten by various mammals, thereby dispersing the seed.
Habitat: It grows well in warm temperate and subtropical areas, and tolerates hot and humid coastal areas. As a xerophytic (drought-resistant) species, carob is well adapted to the ecological conditions of the Mediterranean region. Trees prefer well drained loam and are intolerant of waterlogging, but the deep root systems can adapt to a wide variety of soil conditions and are fairly salt-tolerant.
Distribution: It is native to the Mediterranean region including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands; to the Levant and Middle-East of Western Asia into Iran; and to the Canary Islands and Macaronesia.
Uses: It is widely cultivated for its edible legumes, and as an ornamental tree in gardens. In powdered, chip, or syrup form it is used as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and is used as a substitute for chocolate.
Likewise, carob consumed by humans is actually the dried pod, and not the 'nuts' or seeds.
The pods contain about 55% sugars, 10% protein and 6% fat. The seed is rich in protein. A flour is made from them which is 60% protein, it is free from sugar and starch and is suitable for baking. An edible gum is extracted from the seed. A stabilizer and thickening agent, it is also used as an egg substitute. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.
Crushed pods may be used to make a beverage; compote, liqueur, and syrup are made from carob in Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sicily.
Wikipedia, Ceratonia siliqua
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