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Saint John's Bread Ceratonia siliqua

Phonetic Spelling
sair-ah-TOH-nee-uh SIL-ly-kwah
Description

Carob is a flowering evergreen tree in the bean family growing at maturity to 50 feet and a native to the Mediterranean region and Iran where, in its native environment, it is often found on rocky places near the sea shore.  The Greek word keratonia or Carob translates to horn, referring to the pods, while silique refers to the narrow elongated seed capsules.  

The common name Saint John's Bread is derived from the flesh of the seedpods that were reputedly eaten by St. John while spend 40 days in the desert.

The plant's edible pods are filled with a saccharine pulp and used as a chocolate substitute in cakes and drinks. They are rich in sugars and protein and can be eaten both green or dried.  The seedpods are also used to make a flour that is free from sugar and starch.  Roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute.  

Harvesting can be done once the pods have turned a glossy brown.  A long handled tool or stick can be used to knock the pods off the tree, while being careful not to damage the flowers that will be blooming at the same time.

A plant of many uses, flour made from the seedpods is used to make face-packs while tannin is used to help remove harmful microbes from the body and fight against bacteria, virus and fungus.  

It is frost tender and in leaf all year. Carob flowers from August to October and individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. The genus name of the carob tree derives from the Greek for "fruit of the carob". The epithet is Latin for "pod".

Carob grows well in sandy and loamy soils. While it prefers well-drained soil, it can grow in nutritionally poor soil and in very alkaline soils. However, it does not tolerate shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought and strong winds. Carob can be pruned and trained as a ornamental shrub; however, it is not likely to produce many edible fruit.

Its roots penetrate deep into the soil in order to locate moisture, therefore, allowing it to be planted in very arid locations.  That make it a great choice for xeriscaping, a type of gardening that reduces the need for irrigation.  

Rows of Carob are used to create a windbreak surrounding orchids.  Their dense form can serve as a buffer to reduce noise from the surrounding area.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Surface roots can be aggressive. 

Small rodents can occasionally cause damage to the plant. 

Some cultivars can experience issues to scale and mildew.  

Larva of Myelois ceratoniae Z. (carob moth) may cause extensive damage after the tree is harvested.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#fall flowers#frost tender#fall interest#windbreak#flowering tree#wind tolerant#nitrogen fixation#summer flowers#long lifespan#edible fruits#summer interest#alkaline soils tolerant#evergreen tree#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#salt spray intolerant#shade intolerant#butterflies#butterfly#butterfly garden#bees
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#fall flowers#frost tender#fall interest#windbreak#flowering tree#wind tolerant#nitrogen fixation#summer flowers#long lifespan#edible fruits#summer interest#alkaline soils tolerant#evergreen tree#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#salt spray intolerant#shade intolerant#butterflies#butterfly#butterfly garden#bees
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ceratonia
    Species:
    siliqua
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Seeds are used as a chocolate substitute in baking and as a coffee substitute.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Layering
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern Europe and North Africa.
    Distribution:
    Western and Southern Africa, India, Central and South America.
    Wildlife Value:
    Male flowers emit a sweet odor that can attract bees, butterflies, flies and wasps.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Buffer
    Easy to Grow
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Screening
    Edibility:
    Seed pods are fibrous eaten raw or ground into a powder and used in cakes, cookies, and drinks as a chocolate substitute. It has a high sugar content.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits form on female plants as elongated, compressed, straight, or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen, which tends to happen when the plant is flowering, making harvesting a delicate chore. Hard pods containing edible fibers.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Trees blossom in autumn and the flowers that form in clusters 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.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Four to eight inch broad leaves that are primarily pinnate and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. New foliage is a bronze color.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Description:
    The bark has a rough texture.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    Carob trees have a thick trunk with rough brown bark and sturdy branches.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Salt