Evergreen, native to the Mediterranean region. In ancient Greece the even-sized seeds were used as a unit of weight called ‘carat’: one seed = 1carat = 200 mg. This measurement is still used to weigh precious stones and gold. The pods are used as fodder for livestock.
Dry rocky places, woodland margins, scrub and field boundaries. Often cultivated.
The flowers appear in autumn, male and female flowers on individual trees or on the same tree. The male flowers, reddish in colour, with 5 stamens, are erect on the branches and emit an unpleasant odour. The female flowers are greenish, with the stigma on a long bending style.
Pinnate row of leaflets on either side of the stem. Round to oval leaflets on either side of the stem, shiny, leathery, 10-20 cm long, with no end leaflet. Stout thorns.
Pod: dark-brown flattened to 30 cm long.
Carob pulp is a substitute for cocoa. The pulp is sold as flour for the confectionary industry and during World War II it was used to make bread.
Pod: fresh pulp as a laxative, dried pulp to treat diarrhoea. The flour from the seeds is a food additive E410 used especially in ice cream.