Carob – Ceratonia siliqua

Carob – Ceratonia siliqua

Welcome to a new year!  The turn of the calendar always brings a renewed hope for good things to come.  In the tropical fruit world, it is no different, as each month brings a new flowering.  These flowers lead to fruit that we await patiently.  This time of year also delivers some of our more exotic and unusual fruits. This month we will explore a familiar and most anticipated flower, and an ancient alternative to a familiar treat.

Carob, Ceratonia siliqua, is a flowering evergreen tree in the Fabaceae, or pea, family.  The ripe, dried and toasted pods are ground into a powder that can be used as a substitute for chocolate.  Native to the Mediterranean region, it has been cultivated for thousands of years.  Many of us have a connection to Carob even if we have never tasted it, especially if you like gold or precious gemstones.  The ancient Romans used Carob seeds as a standard of measurement for one of their gold coins, with 24 Carob seeds being the weight measure that verified the coin’s purity.  This is why pure gold is still referred to as 24 carat: carat is derived from the Greek word for carob seed, keration. The genus name Ceratonia in turn stems from this word. The Carob is located in the Mediterranean region on the west side of the park, near the Pakistani Mulberry.

I know that this is the season of hope and renewal and that the new year has begun when I see the first Mango blossoms.  It may not coincide perfectly with the calendar, but it is close enough for me.  Nothing brings a sense of hope of great things to come, the possibilities that await, quite like that first indication that ‘round about 120 days from now we will be tasting the first mango of the season.  Everyone needs something to look forward to, right?

I hope this will prompt you to come out to the park and witness the other very important aspects of fruit production.  The delicious fruit we crave is really the end game, the end zone.  As you explore, look around for flowers, and the hard-working pollinators buzzing around them #parks4pollinators.  So many things have to go right for that fruit to form that it seems to us like a miracle, and I suppose in some ways it is.  It is simply Mother Nature doing what comes, well, naturally.

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