Ceratonia siliqua

Botanical Name :Ceratonia siliqua
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Ceratonia
Species: C. siliqua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names:  carob tree, St John’s-bread, Locust Bean

Habitat  :Ceratonia siliqua 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.

Description:
The Ceratonia siliqua tree grows up to 15 metres (49 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.

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Most carob trees are dioecious. The trees blossom in autumn. 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. The ripe pods eventually fall to the ground and are eaten by various mammals, thereby dispersing the seed.

The seeds of Ceratonia siliqua contains leucodelphinidin, a colourless chemical compound

Cultivation:
Ceratonia siliqua is widely cultivated in the horticultural nursery industry as an ornamental plant for planting in Mediterranean climate and other temperate regions around the world, as its popularity in California and Hawaii shows. The plant develops a sculpted trunk and ornamental tree form when ‘limbed up’ as it matures, otherwise it is used as a dense and large screening hedge. When not grown for legume harvests the plant is very drought tolerant and part of ‘xeriscape’ landscape design for gardens, parks, and public municipal and commercial landscapes.[

Propagation:
Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. If the seed has not swollen then give it another soaking in warm water until it does swell up. Sow in a greenhouse in April[200]. Germination should take place within 2 months. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.

Edible Uses:
Carob consumed by humans is the dried (and sometimes roasted) pod, and not the ‘nuts’ or seeds. Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is poisonous to some mammals, but carob does not, and is used to make chocolate-flavored treats for dogs.

The seeds, also known as locust beans, are used as animal feed, and are the source of locust bean gum — a food thickening agent. Crushed pods may be used to make a beverage; compote, liqueur, and syrup are made from carob in Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sicily. Several studies suggest that carob may aid in treating diarrhea in infants.[13] In Libya, carob syrup (there called rub) is used as a complement to Asida. The so-called carob syrup made in Peru is actually from the fruit of the Prosopis nigra tree.

Carob is rich in sugars – Sucrose = 531g ± 93 g/kg dry weight for cultivated varieties and 437 ± 77 g/kg in wild type varieties. Fructose and glucose levels do not differ between cultivated and wild type carob

Carob is a healthy substitute for  chocolate that is lower in calories. Roasted carob is naturally sweeter, (or not as bitter), as unsweetened chocolate, so it can be made palatable with less added sugar in recipes. Carob has a number of advantages over chocolate: it is hypoallergenic, and hypoglycemic. 55 The true trick to enjoying carob is to not expect it to taste exactly like chocolate,(and be forever disappointed), but to learn to appreciate carob for its own unique taste.

Traditional uses:
Carob was eaten in Ancient Egypt. Carob juice drinks are traditionally drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan. It was also a common sweetener and was used in the hieroglyph for “sweet” (nedjem). Dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat. Also it is believed to be an aphrodisiac.

In Cyprus, carob syrup is known as Cyprus’s black gold, and is widely exported.

In Malta, a syrup (?ulepp tal-?arrub) is made out of carob pods. This is a traditional medicine for coughs and sore throat. A traditional sweet, eaten during Lent and Good Friday, is also made from carob pods in Malta. However, carob pods were mainly used as animal fodder in the Maltese Islands, apart from times of famine or war when they formed part of the diet of many Maltese.

In the Iberian Peninsula, carob pods were used mainly as animal fodder, especially to feed donkeys.

Carob pods were an important source of sugar before sugarcane and sugar beets became widely available

Medicinal  Uses::
Parts Used: Seed Pod
Constituents:  arginine, benzoic-acid , gallic-acid , glucose , pectin ,starch, sucrose ,tannin,tocopherol,tyrosine

Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiemetic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Emollient;  Purgative.

The pulp in the seedpods of carob is very nutritious and, due to its high sugar content, sweet-tasting and mildly laxative[254]. However, the pulp in the pods is also astringent and, used in a decoction, will treat diarrhoea and gently help to cleanse and also relieve irritation within the gut[240, 254]. Whilst these appear to be contradictory effects, carob is an example of how the body responds to herbal medicines in different ways, according to how the herb is prepared and according to the specific medical problem. The seedpods are also used in the treatment of coughs[240]. A flour made from the ripe seedpods is demulcent and emollient. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea[7]. The seed husks are astringent and purgative[240]. The bark is strongly astringent. A decoction is used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

 

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratonia_siliqua

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ceratonia+siliqua

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail462.php

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