Ajuntament de Barcelona

Ceratonia siliqua

Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Garrofer
    Spanish name: 
    Algarrobo
    English name: 
    Carob
    Observations: 

    According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of this plant is least concern.

    Species characteristics
    Family: 
    Fabaceae
    Origin: 
    Western Mediterranean area
    Habitat: 
    Seashore
    Characteristics: 

    Perennial tree 5-8 m tall, although it can reach up to 15 m, with short short trunk  and dense rounded dark crown. The bark is thick and cracked.

    The leaves, 10-20 cm long, are compound and alternate. They have 6-10 oval slightly leathery leaflets with rounded apex, 3.5-5cm long. The leaflets are dark green, bright on the upside and dull on the lower side.

    The small flowers have no corolla, replaced by a fleshy disk, and appear on the branches old wood into cylindrical bunches. The masculine flowers, yellowish or reddish coloured, have 5 staminaa and a distinguishing smell.

    The fruit is a indehiscent hanging legume, 10-30 cm long, with leathery chestnut-dark brown, or almost blackwhen ripe, pod. It is flat, straight or curved, and thick, especially on the stitch area, and contains between 15 and 20 flat oval chestnut-brown seeds, covered by sweet edible sticky pulp.

    Flowering time: 
    July-November
    Fruiting time: 
    Late August-early September
    Uses and properties: 

    Carob wood is used as fuel and in carpentry as well as in the building industry to make furniture and tools.

    In the Mediterranean, it was widely used in popular medicine.

    Besides this uses, the Carob is also used to feed cattle and humans. A chocolate substitute can be obtained from its fruit in diet food as well as a thickener used as additive in the food industry. 

    Although the consumption has decreased lately, its fruit were one of the main sources of sugar when sugar cane was less common and was used in all its forms (dry, roasted or in flour) as an ingredient for melmelades and jams, cakes, cookies, liqueurs and sodas.

    It is used in gardening because of its appearance and its drought resilience.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name of the carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua, comes from the Greek κεράτιον, “carob” (from κέρας, “horn”, because of the shape) and from the Latin siliqua, “carob”. In former times, the carob tree seeds, very constant in size and weight, were used in Middle East to weight gold and gems, that is why they became the jewellery weight measure, the carat, term just coming from the Greek κεράτιον, “carob”.

    In Ancient Egypt, the carobs were usually used as a sweetener: the hieroglyph to represent the concept of sweet was just a carob picture.

    The carob tree is one of the indigenous species of the Mediterranean forest.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    http://www.asturnatura.com