Herb of the Week for 6th April
Letís Hear It For Carob by Lynn Kirkland
Our elf is searching for a sweet treat
high in the branches of the Carob tree.
Ceratonia siliqua, is an attractive glossy
leaved tree, which in produces edible
pods which are used as a chocolate substitute,
livestock fodder and as a medicinal herb.
I grew the carob tree which is in our
Living Magic Garden from seed and it has
been a lovely evergreen feature in this
As there is only the one we will never
see pods on it as you need to have a male
for every ten female trees to do the pollination
Growing in warmer climates, like Australia,
it is used as shelter hedging on farms
where livestock can graze on the pods
as extra fodder. A high energy food it
has been used by the cavalry to feed horses.
A native of the Mediterranean it withstands
drought and in Cyprus it has been planted
on steep rock faces by blasting holes
for the trees to be planted into. Needless
to say it is not tolerant of wet feet.
With Easter here those who cannot have
chocolate can enjoy a sweet alternative
of a carob Easter egg. The carob bean
is naturally sweet and has a good percentage
of calcium, protein, Vitamins A, D, B1,
B2 and B3 as well as other minerals.
Carob does not have caffeine or theobromine
which are present in chocolate and cocoa.
Carob has high pectin content and it is
this which lends itself to being used
as a treatment for diarrhoea for both
humans and animals.
The pods contain round hard seeds which
lie in a thick sweet pulp. These are the
source of Locust Bean Gum which is a natural
thickening agent used in the food and
So a fascinating herbal tree which allows
the option of an alternative sweet treat
at Easter time as health shops sell carob
products in many shapes and forms.