Carob (Ceratonia siliqua L., 1753) is an evergreen tree, mostly dioecious (ie there are plants with only male flowers and trees with only female flowers, rarely have flowers of both sexes on the same plant). Belongs to the family Fabaceae.
It is a tree, a little twisted, a crown expanded, branched above. It can reach a height of 10 m.
The stem is strong, with greyish-brown bark, a little cracked.
It has compound leaves with 2-3 pairs of leaflets tough, leathery, glossy dark green on top, lighter below, with entire margin and more or a little jagged.
The flowers are very small, corolla papilionacea are brought up short ears, may appear before the foliation on the trunk and older branches.
The fruits, called locust or Vajani, are large pods 10-20 cm long, thick and cuoiosi, at first pale green and then, when ripe, dark brown: have a very hard outer surface, with pulpy, doughy sugar that hardens with desiccation. The fruits contain seeds dark tondeggiati and flattened, very hard.
The fruits persist on the tree for a long time that fruits may be present "dried" brown green and immature.
It is a wild plant in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from Portugal and Morocco, lives in arid areas of this region. In Italy there is the wild in the South while it is naturalized in Tuscany and north of this, where, however, is rare.
It is grown especially in North Africa, Greece and Cyprus and to a lesser extent, in Spain, southern Italy and Albania.
The carob tree is a hardy, undemanding, grows well in arid soils, and very calcareous. Its growth is slow, it is a long-lived species.
· It is popular in regions of origin for the shadow of the crown, have retained the very dense foliage produces valuable areas of shade in dry places.
· Part of the substitutes are made from chocolate pasta or bean seeds.
· Many thickeners, gelling agents, food products are made from flour, locust bean gum.
· Today, the fruits (the seeds) are used for animal feed. At one time they were used as material for fermentation to produce ethanol. How to use the ground seeds of the folk tradition in flour were used as anti-diarrheal. The fruits will keep for a long time and can be commonly eaten fresh or dried, or alternatively, passed slightly in the oven.
· The seeds, very hard, are inedible, may be gaining ground flour from the multiple uses that contains high amounts of carrubina which has the capacity to absorb water 100 times its weight.
· The seeds being considered as particularly uniform size and weight from their name in Arabic Qirat or "karat" is derived the name of the unit of measurement (carat) being used for gemstones, equal to one fifth of a gram. In fact, the variation of the weight of bean seeds in bulk taken up to 25%.
· Typical is very long-lived plants, the appearance, after the first rains of August, the so-called mushroom of Carob (Laetiporus sulphureus). Harvest is sold at very high prices in local markets and how meat is cooked with meat sauce.
· The locust wood for its hardness was used for the manufacture of wooden tools and equipment subject to wear.
· In herbal medicine the dried extract of the fruit (carob) is used, even with ginger, in irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea ave.
· Effect of the high content of tannin in the pulp of the fruit if taken in large amounts has annoying effect.
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