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Carob Tree

The Carob Tree:
A Mediterranean Food Forest Must-Have

Carob tree is a staple in Mediterranean food forests. Its common name comes from the Arabic word “kharrub,” and its scientific name, Ceratonia siliqua, is derived from the Greek word “keras,” meaning horn, and “siliqua,” meaning pod. The tree belongs to the pea family (Fabaceae).

The Carob Tree - How to Use it…

Comestible

The carob tree’s edible parts are its pods, which are rich in sugars and can be eaten fresh or dried. They can also be ground into a powder or made into a syrup, which is a popular alternative to chocolate. The seeds inside the pods can also be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Medicinal

Carob pods have been traditionally used to treat diarrhea, stomach problems, and as an appetite stimulant. They are also said to be good for respiratory and skin issues. Carob leaves can also be made into a tea to help with respiratory issues.

Other Uses

Carob trees are not only a valuable food source but also provide other benefits. They are drought-resistant, hardy trees that can live for hundreds of years. They provide shade and can be used for erosion control. They are also an important source of food for wildlife.

Growing Carob Trees...

Appearance

Carob trees are low and spreading, similar in shape to an old apple tree. They can grow up to 10 meters tall but are usually shorter, reaching a maximum height of 15-17 meters. They have deep roots and thick trunks with dark, leathery evergreen leaves.

Habitat

Carob trees are native to the eastern Mediterranean region but have been cultivated and spread all over the world. They thrive in Mediterranean climates with hot summers and mild winters. They can grow in a variety of soils but prefer well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 7.5. They require full sun to grow properly.

Needs

Carob trees are drought-resistant but require regular irrigation during the first years of growth. They do not require fertilizer but can benefit from organic matter added to the soil. They should be pruned regularly to encourage branching and to maintain shape.

Pollination

Carob trees require cross-pollination to produce fruit. They typically need another carob tree, or a close relative such as the locust bean, to provide pollen for fertilization.

Propagation

Almond trees can be propagated through winter dormant bare-root plants or by budding onto a suitable rootstock.

Potential Problems

Carob trees are generally disease-free and pest-free, but they can be affected by some issues such as root rot and cankers. These can be prevented by maintaining proper soil drainage and avoiding over-watering.

Carob Tree - Companion Planting

Other Trees and Herbs

Companion plants for carob trees include other fruit trees such as olive and fig, as well as herbs such as oregano and thyme. These plants are also well-suited to a Mediterranean climate.

Nitrogen Fixing Plants

Nitrogen fixing plants that grow well in a Mediterranean climate and go well with carob trees include clover, peas, and beans.

Pollinator-Attracting Plants

Pollinator-attracting plants that thrive in a Mediterranean climate and complement carob trees include wildflowers, native plants, or borage.

Pest-Deterrent Plants

Pest-deterrent plants that grow well in a Mediterranean climate and are good companions for carob trees include marigolds, chrysanthemums, or nasturtiums.

Ground Covers

Ground covers that grow well in a Mediterranean climate and go well with carob trees include creeping thyme, comfrey, or creeping rosemary.

Interesting Facts About Carob Trees:

  • Carob was once used as a standard of weight for precious items and this custom has survived in the form of the carat, which is still used to measure gemstones and the purity of metals.
  • Carob powder is often used as a chocolate substitute due to its similar flavor and texture. It is also a good source of antioxidants and fiber.
  • Carob wood is hard and durable, making it suitable for use in furniture and construction. In ancient times, it was also used to make tools and weapons.

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