Tree of the week: Ceratonia siliqua – Carob tree

Ceratonia siliqua is a slow growing exotic tree with a life cycle of about 100 years. It is native to the Eastern Mediterranean where it has been cultivated for 4000 years for its sugar rich pods and gum containing seeds.

This evergreen tree can reach a mature height of 8m with a spread of approximately 5m. It has a broad, semi-spherical crown and a thick trunk with sturdy branches. Ceratonia siliqua is hermaphroditic, it bears both male and female flowers on the same tree. The blooms are born in clusters that grow directly along the branches in autumn. These are followed by non-splitting pods that are 10 to 30cm long. It begins to fruit after about 6 to 7 years of growth.

The Carob tree can grow on a wide range of soils although it prefers well-drained loams with a high lime content. It creates a good shade tree, is quite hardy and can tolerate hardy and can tolerate dry conditions. This makes it an ideal tree for an urban environment. Traditionally, Carob pulp has been used for food: roasted and eaten as a snack, roasted and ground to make a cocoa substitute, fermented to make alcohol, or diluted to make carob syrup.

Botanical Pronunciation: Cer-rah-tone-i-ah sil-i-qua