The Carob Tree is an evergreen tree or shrub in the bean family that is widely grown in warm regions for its edible pods. It is also grown as an ornamental tree, a street and a shade tree in gardens and landscapes. Ceratonia siliqua is native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle east and it has been cultivated there for eons. it is a subtropical tree and so it thrives in regions where citrus is grown, including southern California, the southwestern United States and Florida. It has a broad, rounded canopy with sturdy branches and a stout trunk with rough, brown bark. The leaves are pinnately compound and have 3-7 ovate or broadly elliptic leaflets. The leaflets are medium or dark green, leathery and glossy. They have wavy margins which add to the ornamental appeal to the tree. Flowers are small and greenish or reddish. They are in narrow clusters in the leaf axils, on branch spurs on the larger branches and sometimes even on the trunk. The flowers are followed by long, straight or curved brown pods. The pods are mildly sweet and edible. They are used in cakes and cookies and as a chocolate substitute.
The term carat (or karat), the weight unit to measure gold, diamonds, other gems and pearls, is derived from the Greek word keration, alluding to an ancient practice of people in the Middle East weighing gold and gemstones against the seeds of the carob tree. It is also known as the locust tree. It likes full sun and is drought tolerant. It needs only infrequent deep watering, additional water needed to produce quality pods. Will retain its lower branches and thus can be grown as a large hedge. Hardy in zones 9-12.