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Ceratonia siliqua
St John's Bread


The Carob Tree 
Carob Products
Carob in Food
Carob and Health
Other Products and Uses
Growing Carob

The Carob Tree

Botanical Name: Ceratonia siliqua

Family: Leguminosae

Genus: Ceratonia

Common Names: Carob, St John's Bread, Locust, Locust Bean, Black Gold


Carob is a species that has a long history of use by humans. Other names commonly used for Carob are St John's Bread and Locust. Legend has it that St John ate the pods of this species and hence the name. Evidence of the use of Carob products by humans date back to ancient Greece and Egypt where the plant was used as a source of food. The seeds from the Carob tree are extremely consistant in size and weight and are believed to have been the original guage for the 'carat' used by jewellers. The species itself is ancient having survived the last ice age and flourished throughout the Mediterranean region since. It is well adapted to harsh climates and poor soils. Throughout its natural range the species has been widely cultivated because of its reliability as a food and fuel resource even during times of drought. 

Description: The carob tree is a slow growing, medium sized evergreen tree originating in the eastern Mediterranean. It is a member of the Legume (Pea) family and is the only member of the genus Ceratonia. It is a xerophilous scleophphyllous species well suited to dry infertile environments. The species is trioecious with male, female and hermaphrodite inflorescences and is often multi stemmed growing up to 15 meters in height. The production of fruit begins around the age of 15 and continues for the life of the plant. The leaves are broad, dark green and offering substantial shade. The pods are long and leathery often growing up to 300mm long.







Carob Products

Carod is a highly versitile and useful tree to humans as there are a wide range of products derived from its fruits and timber. Primarilly, foods for both human and animal consumption are obtained from it's seeds, pulp and seed pods. Every part of the fruit is able to be consumed. However food is not the only product supplied by this species.

Carob in Food

The fruits of the Carob tree can be eaten either green or after having been processed. The Inside the seed pod there are up to 15 seeds surrounded by a saccharine pulp. The seeds are seperated from the pulp and used to make locust bean gum sometomes known as Ceratonia or Carob bean gum. This product is used in the manufacture of food stuffs, especially confectionary. It be used as a stabiliser, emulsifer, thickener or to to prevent sugar crystallisation. The other major food source derivrd from Carob is from the ground up pod itself, which forms a high protein powder that is an effective substitute for Cocoa powder. Carob powder has a number of advantages over Cocoa powder and as such is often used to make what has come to be known as 'healthy chocolate'. Carob powder is free of the allergetic and addictive effects of caffeine and theobromine present in Cocoa. It also contains less fat and more sugar than Cocoa. Cocoa has around 23% fat and 5% sugar while Carob contains apporoximately 7% fat and 42-48% sugar. Carob powder is often used as a substitute for cocoa at rates of up to 50%. Used in this manner Carob has become a popular chocolate substitute used in a huge variety of confectionery products and drinks as well as a general sweetener. Carob is also used to make flour, molasses, alcohol and a substitute for coffee and eggs.


Carob and Health

Apart from the health benefits obtained by subsituting Carob for Cocoa and synthetic sweeteners in our diet, Carob also has excellent nutritional value. Along with up to 80% protien, it contains Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium Manganese, Barium, Copper, Nickel and the vitamins A, B, B2, B3, and D. It also has medicinal uses including the treatment of coughs and diarrhoea.

Other Products and Uses

While food production is a very important characteristic of this species it is by no means the only benefit that can be obtained from growing Carob. These include: Tannin is obtained from the bark of Carob.
Cosmetic face-packs are made from a flour made from the seed pods.
The wood is hard and highly sought after by wood turners.
The wood is also used for fire wood
Provides shade and shelter and fodder for stock.
It is a nitrogen fixing species, providing improvements to soil fertility.
Grows well on low rainfall marginal land and is used for land amelioration.

Growing Carob

Prior to planting Carob, pre-soak the seed in warm water for approximately 24hrs. This species prefers sandy loams, medium loam and clay loam soils but can tolerate poorer soil conditions including rocky areas. Good drainage and full to semi-sun is also prefered if the species is to grow well. Carob will tolerate pH in the range 6.2 to 8.6. This species is extremely drought resistant and irrigation is not required. It is also free of many pests and diseases, however it is susceptible to Texas Root Rot. After the plant has established itself it requires little maintenance except form pruning to encourage a single stem if required.

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Copyright 1998 The Australian National University
Author: Mark Garner
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Date last modified: 1.11.98