Carob tree - Ceratonia siliqua

The Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is best known for its edible seeds that are used, among other things, as a chocolate substitute. It is a tree that grows well in dry climates, which would explain its relative abundance in Southern Spain were the Carob tree and the Holm Oak can be found on most "fincas" (small farms or country houses). The images I have used in this post are from several trees not far from my home.

The leaves of the Carob tree are even-pinnately compound with the individual leaflets being slightly oblong with a round base and about two inches in length. The venation is pinnate.
The seedpods of the Carob tree look a lot like green-beans. Before they turn ripe they are bright, shinny green and measure about 5-7 inches in length. When ripe they darken to almost pure black and become somewhat withered. The seed pods hand in small clusters from the primary and secondary branches and I have even seen them growing right out of the main trunk. Judging by what I have seen the clusters can contain from two to seven seed pods.

The image below shows the edible carob seeds in a ripe seed pods that I carefully opened up. These seeds can be eaten right out of the seed pop or can be used to make a number of things such as a chocolate substitute, flower, molasses, alcohol, etc. Many of these products are made from ceratonia (also known as locust bean gum or Carob bean gum).

One interesting thing about the tree itself is its highly gnarled trunk when it get old. Near where I live most of the Carob trees have super gnarled trunks like the image below. Once while out on a hike I came across one with a large broken branch that left the wood exposed. I was suprised by how red the wood was. Later a local man told me that this tree is used by local wood workers and carvers to make stair rails, small furniture and carvings.


  1. Dennis notes: Carob candy bars and drink mixes used to be easy to find...but less and less . carob tastes good.

  2. dear Dan, do you think you could identify a flowering tree for me? The white blossoms smell sharp yet sweet and it's an ornamental tree blossoming on many streets of NYC right now. I took a photo of one yesterday and can post it on my blog or e mail it to you. Thanks

  3. D. Chedwick - if you can post a picture on your blog or to Picasa or Flickr I´d be glad to give a shot at identifying it. - Dan

  4. Hi Dan,

    You have a beautiful picture posted here that my non-profit would love to use for a reforestation programme advertisement. Is there a way to discuss off the blog?

    Best regards,

  5. Arielle,
    You can email me at...
    treespecies at gmail dot com

  6. Dan, did you ever find out what that tree was that has a white flower, i would love to no


  7. I am from Spain and i can sell seeds of this specie. Contact me at topomtgspain (a) hotmail-com
    See you!

  8. Just wanted to say what gd info you have..I'm writing a project of indigenous plants and your info really helped me!Thank You

  9. Dan, can u pls find me some info about:
    3)Sea Squill
    4)Wild Thyme
    and post them on your blog because i rly can not find any information about them.

  10. Rebecca,

    I have posted about the Sandarac. Here is the URL...

    I´ll see if I have anything on the others.

  11. Rebecca,

    The other three plants you mentioned (Fennel, Sea Squill and Wild Thyme are not trees and my blog is devoted just to tree species (and some large shrubs)

  12. Dan,

    Thank You. I have took the important notes from your blog. For the WIld Thyme, Sea Squill and fennel, I'll find from some other website

  13. We have a large beautiful carob on the south side of our two story home. It has a circumference of 102 inches and is quite large.

    It shades our southern part of the roof in the winter and would impact a solar system we are considering installing.

    It is scheduled for periodic tree trimming by the City but not for another year or 2.

    Can you advise what is the minimum height we could trim it back to without harming the tree?


    Can you advise

  14. Hi There

    Please could you assist me?

    I live in South Africa and have had a carob tree in my garden for the past 20+ years..

    I need to relocate the tree to another place in my garden and would like to know if it can be done?

    Also I would like to know when the best time is to do the relocation?

    Can any one help?

    Please email me on


  15. We have many carob trees in Lebanon and use the pods to make molasses, the best molasses on earth! Mixed with tahini, it is my Lebanese caramel, worth any candy bar, any day~
    Also worth mentioning that the carob pods are very fragrant and make the tree smell a few feet away!

  16. I live in Mesa, Arizona and moved into a house that has a huge carob tree in the back yard. The seed pods are ripe now and falling from the tree. My dog is cracking open these pods and eating the seeds. Is it safe for him to eat?

  17. Carob is safe for dogs to eat, but I imagine in large quantities it could have a laxative effect due to the oil/fat content in the beans. The pods are used as fodder for livestock, including horses.

  18. When I was a child in southern Europa, we used to grate the pods and use it on wide noodles with sugar on top, one of my favorite foods.Very healthy too.

  19. We have two Carob trees in Spain. For many years I have cut back overhanging branches around the pool. The larger of the two trees I understand is male, producing a fine dusty flower loved by bees etc. The smaller tree I understand to be the female that produces the long pods.I have taken some of these seeds back to England and they have stated to grow on the kitchen shelf. I intend to plant out in the green house in the Spring.Can the Carob survive the south English climate??



  21. Dear Dan, do you live in S Africa ? I am trying to source carob leaves for analysis, but have no carob trees in KZN where I live. I would be grateful if you could let me know. Thanks. Gill