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Ceratonia siliqua (photo courtesy of blickwinkel/Alamy)
Ceratonia siliqua (photo courtesy of blickwinkel/Alamy)

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Zones 9, 13-16, 18-24, H1
Full Sun
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Ceratonia siliqua

Carob, St. John’s Bread
Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

Native to eastern Mediterranean region. Often multistemmed, it maintains a bushy form with branches to the ground when allowed to grow naturally. Use this way as a big hedge, informal or trimmed. Trained as a tree, with lower branches removed, it grows at a moderate rate to become dense and round headed, to 30–40 ft. tall and wide. Will reach 20 ft. in 10 years. As a street tree, it needs more than normal space since roots will break sidewalks. Foliage is glossy dark green, unusually dense. Leaves are divided into four to ten round leaflets averaging about 2 in. long. Small red flowers in spring.

Female trees produce (and drop) abundant 1-ft.-long flattened, dark brown, leathery pods. Rich in sugar, the pods are milled to a fine powder and sold in health-food stores as a chocolate substitute.

Hardy to 18°F/–8°C; give young trees winter protection the first year or two. Resistant to oak root fungus. Avoid overwatering in heavy or poorly drained soils, since carob is subject to root-crown rot. Very drought-tolerant. If raised for fruit crop, needs regular moisture.

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