The Ancient Carob Tree

The recent good news, of a 55% rise in the price of the Carob Nut, has brought the unique and interesting history of the plant back to public attention again. The scientific name of the tree is Ceratonia Silaqua, which comes from the Greek word κεράτιον  which means “Fruit of the Carob” and the Latin word Silaqua, which translates as “pod”. The term used for measuring gemstones and precious metals, Carat, comes from the ancient method of weighing gold and precious stones against the seeds of the Carob Tree, by traders from the middle east. One Carat equalled 0.2 grammes of seed. When the Romans introduced the 100% pure gold solidus coin, it weighed 24 carat seeds, hence the term 24carat, meaning pure gold. The Tree is a flowering evergreen within the pea family.

The Ripe Pod of the Carob Tree.

Like the Cactus plant, the tree is well known for it resilience to drought and heat, so much so, that it became a subsistence diet in the desert. The seed pod of the Carob tree is also known as, Saint Johns Bread, which according to Christian Tradition, Saint John The Baptist survived on, while fulfilling the prophecy of Preaching in the Wilderness. The Carob Pod is a high source of fibre, rich in Polyphenols, a known antiviral and antiseptic tannin. Today it is used as a chocolate substitute and as an ingredient for cakes and biscuits. It is also used as an animal feed supplement, especially popular with pigs due to its sweet taste. In Ibiza the tree grows freely and it has helped the Island exist true difficult times. The rise in its value is due to the failure of crops, especially grains, in other countries.When the price is high, the ground down pod is exported in powered form and when its low, it is retained as animal feed. A truly unique and remarkable plant that is well worth checking out when in Ibiza.