Carob tree

Ceratonia siliqua

''Ceratonia siliqua'', known as the carob '' and Hebrew '' ''חרוב‬'' '') tree , St John's bread, locust bean , locust-tree, or carob bush is a flowering evergreen tree or shrub in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, and as an ornamental tree in gardens. The ripe, dried, and sometimes toasted pod is often ground into ''carob powder'', which is used to replace cocoa powder. ''Carob bars'', an alternative to chocolate bars, as well as carob treats, are often available in health food stores. Carob pods are naturally sweet, not bitter, and contain no theobromine or caffeine.

The carob tree is native to the Mediterranean region, including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands, the Levant and Middle-East of Western Asia into Iran; and the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. The carat, a unit of mass for gemstones, and a measurement of purity for gold, takes its name from the Greek word for a carob seed, ''keration'', via the Arabic word, ''qīrāṭ''.
The Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), Oludeniz (Turkey) Jun 20, 2012. Dutch name: Johannesbroodboom. The "beans" of the Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) contains the seeds of this tree. The beans grow directly out of the trunk and out of the boughs. The beans can, after drying, be eaten by men and animals. The weight of one seed was for centuries the international standard for the weight of 1 carat. Carob tree,Ceratonia siliqua,Geotagged,Spring,Turkey

Appearance

The carob tree grows up to 15 m tall. The crown is broad and semispherical, supported by a thick trunk with rough brown bark and sturdy branches. Its leaves are 10 to 20 cm long, alternate, pinnate, and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. It is frost-tolerant to roughly 20 °F .

Most carob trees are dioecious and some are hermaphroditic, so strictly male trees do not produce fruit. When 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 ; they are pollinated by both wind and insects. The male flowers smell like human semen, an odor that is caused in part by amines.

The fruit is a legume , that is elongated, compressed, straight, or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen. When the sweet ripe pods eventually fall to the ground, they are eaten by various mammals, such as swine, thereby dispersing the hard inner seed in the excrement.

The seeds of the carob tree contain leucodelphinidin, a colourless chemical compound related to leucoanthocyanidins.
Ceratonia siliqua Ceratonia siliqua (carob tree) is a Mediterranean tree. In S Jordan it is a relic in the arid mountains.  Carob tree,Ceratonia siliqua,Geotagged,Jordan,Winter

Naming

The word carob comes from Middle French ' , which borrowed it from Arabic , ultimately perhaps from Akkadian language ' or Aramaic ''kharubha'', related to Hebrew harubh. ''Ceratonia siliqua'', the scientific name of the carob tree, derives from the Greek ''kerátiοn'' κεράτιον 'fruit of the carob , and Latin ''siliqua'' 'pod, carob'.

The unit "carat", used for weighing precious metal and stones, also comes from κεράτιον, as 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 . 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.The carob tree is widely cultivated in the horticultural nursery industry as an ornamental plant for Mediterranean climates and other temperate regions around the world, being especially popular in California and Hawaii. The plant develops a sculpted trunk and the form of an ornamental tree after being "limbed up" as it matures, otherwise it is used as a dense and large screening hedge. If one does not care about the size of the fruit harvest, the plant is very drought tolerant, and so it is used in xeriscape landscape design for gardens, parks, and public municipal and commercial landscapes.

Habitat

Although cultivated extensively, carob can still be found growing wild in eastern Mediterranean regions, and has become naturalized in the west.

The tree is typical in the southern Portuguese region of the Algarve, where the tree is called ''alfarrobeira'', and the fruit ''alfarroba.'' It is also seen in southern Spain , Catalonia and Valencia , Malta , on the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia , in Southern Croatia , and in Southern Greece, Cyprus, as well as on many Greek islands such as Crete and Samos. The common Greek name is , or . In Turkey, it is known as "goat's horn" .

The various trees known as ''algarrobo'' in Latin America belong to a different subfamily, Mimosoideae of the Fabaceae. They were named ''algarrobo'' after the carob tree by early Spanish settlers because they also produce pods with sweet pulp.The carob genus, ''Ceratonia'', belongs to the legume family, Fabaceae, and is believed to be an archaic remnant of a part of this family now generally considered extinct. It grows well in warm temperate and subtropical areas, and tolerates hot and humid coastal areas. As a xerophyte , carob is well adapted to the conditions of the Mediterranean region with just 250 to 500 millimetres of rainfall per year.

Carob trees can survive long periods of drought, but to grow fruit, they need 500 to 550 millimetres of rainfall per year. They prefer well-drained, sandy loams and are intolerant of waterlogging, but the deep root systems can adapt to a wide variety of soil conditions and are fairly salt-tolerant . After being irrigated with saline water in the summer, carob trees could possibly recover during winter rainfalls. In some experiments, young carob trees were capable of basic physiological functions under high salt conditions .

Not all legume species can develop a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia to make use of atmospheric nitrogen. It remains unclear if carob trees have this ability: Some findings suggest that it is not able to form root nodules with rhizobia, while in another more recent study, trees have been identified with nodules containing bacteria believed to be from the ''Rhizobium'' genus. However, a study measuring the 15N-signal in the tissue of the carob tree did not support the theory that carob trees naturally use atmospheric nitrogen.

Reproduction

Most of the roughly 50 known cultivars are of unknown origin and only regionally distributed. The cultivars show high genetic and therefore morphological and agronomical variation. No conventional breeding by controlled crossing has been reported, but selection from orchards or wild populations has been done. Domesticated carobs can be distinguished from their wild relatives by some fruit-yielding traits such as building of greater beans, more pulp, and higher sugar contents. Also, genetic adoption of some varieties to the climatic requirements of their growing regions has occurred. Though a partially successful breaking of the dioecy happened, the yield of hermaphroditic trees still cannot compete with that of female plants, as their pod-bearing properties are worse. Future breeding would be focused on processing-quality aspects, as well as on properties for better mechanization of harvest or better-yielding hermaphroditic plants. The use of modern breeding techniques is restricted due to low polymorphism for molecular markers.

Food

Carob products consumed by humans come from the dried, and sometimes roasted, pod, which has two main parts: the pulp accounts for 90% and the seeds for 10% by weight. Carob pulp is sold as flour or "chunks". The flour of the carob embryo or seed can be used in human and animal nutrition, but the seed is often discarded before making carob powder.

Carob pods are mildly sweet on their own and are used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, sometimes as a substitute for chocolate in recipes. In Malta, a traditional sweet eaten during Lent and Good Friday is made from carob pods. Dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of ''Tu Bishvat''.

The production of locust bean gum, a thickening agent used in the food industry, is the most important use of carob seeds economically . Locust bean gum is used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, gelling agent, or as a substitute for gluten in low-calorie products. If galactomannans are mixed with other gelling substances such as carrageenan, they can be used to thicken the liquid part of food. This is used extensively in canned food for animals to get the jellied texture.

Locust bean gum is produced from the endosperm, which accounts for 42–46% of the carob seed and is rich in galactomannans . Galactomannans are hydrophilic and swell in water. To make 1 kilogram of locust bean gum, 3 kilograms of carob seeds are needed, which must come from roughly 30 kilograms of carob pod fruit.

Evolution

The word carob comes from Middle French ' , which borrowed it from Arabic , ultimately perhaps from Akkadian language ' or Aramaic ''kharubha'', related to Hebrew harubh. ''Ceratonia siliqua'', the scientific name of the carob tree, derives from the Greek ''kerátiοn'' κεράτιον 'fruit of the carob , and Latin ''siliqua'' 'pod, carob'.

The unit "carat", used for weighing precious metal and stones, also comes from κεράτιον, as 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 . 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.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionAngiosperms
ClassEudicots
OrderFabales
FamilyFabaceae
GenusCeratonia
SpeciesC. siliqua
Photographed in
Jordan
Turkey