Carob, St John's bread, locust bean (Eng); algarrobo, algarrobero, farrobero, garrofero (Spa); garrofer (Cat); algarroba (Baq); alfarobeira (Glg); alfarobeira (Por).
There are already many carob trees. […] In general they are very beautiful, having an attractive appearance, and sometimes one comes across specimens that have developed in a particularly picturesque way.
‘Spanish diary’, Alexander von Humboldt
Very branching evergreen tree that can be up to 12 m tall. It has a short, robust trunk that is often twisted and irregular. The bark is thick, greyish and smooth, and the root system is extensive and deep. The dark green leaves are leathery and composed of rounded or oval leaflets. These have an entire margin and grow two-by-two, facing each other, in groups of up to five pairs (even-pinnate). The flowers are inconspicuous and hairless, but give off a strong scent. They are borne directly on the trunk or lateral branches in clustered groups. There are female, male and hermaphrodite blooms, usually on different plants. The fruits are the well-known carob beans: curved legumes resembling flattened horns. These are up to 25 cm long and greenish at first, becoming chocolatey-brown when ripe. They hold 10 to 16 very hard, dark brown seeds.
The carob is a tree of warm climates that needs a sunny location and which withstands drought fairly well. It is indifferent to substrate type and even grows on stony or arid areas, although it prefers limey soils. For this reason it adapts well to the Canarian climate and region, where it is frequently cultivated. As this tree is sensitive to the cold, it tends to disappear in the highest zones. It is not uncommon to find it established in the wild in coastal areas and bottoms of ravines near the coast, where it is usually isolated. It does not normally form large stands.
This tree is typical of the Mediterranean and Near East. As it was widely cultivated by the Arabic people, beginning in the 12th century, its native range is not precisely known, although some authors suggest that it originated in the area of Arabia, Syria and Lebanon. In the Canaries the carob has become naturalised on almost all the islands, specifically El Hierro, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.