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By Lynn Kirkland

 


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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 garden.
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 business.
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 cosmetic industry.
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.

  
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