Carob Trees of Modica

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Carrubo Ceratonia siliqua L.

The carob tree, whose name derives from the Arabic word “kharrub”, is an evergreen tree, belonging to the Caesalpinaceae family; it’s a dioecious, squat tree with an expanded crown. It’s very long-lived (it can easily grow several centuries old), it reaches 32-39 ft in height, and its crown can get up to 32-ft wide. The fruits are produced only by female plants and appear in spring, ripening between August and September. They are mainly used as animal fodder (especially horses), for the distillation of ethanol, etc. The most important parts of the carob fruit are the pulp and the seeds. The former is used for many different products but especially for a 10% moisture flour commonly used for making animal feed. This special flour is also recommended for recovery therapies related to infectious diseases or severe digestive disorders.
Another type of carob flour for human consumption is the one commercially sold as “cocoa”: it is widely used in confectionery products and is appreciated for its very low-fat content and the total lack of theobromine – it also features a nice taste and contains a lot of sugar.

In the past, carob seeds, called “carats”, were used as counterweights for precision weighing of precious stones: today, the name still indicates that very unit of measurement – one carat equals 1/5 of a gram – 0.07 oz.).

Carob trees grow spontaneously in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean; they were actually brought to Sicily by the ancient Greek settlers, while the Arabs intensified its cultivation and spread it as far as Morocco and Spain.

In Italy, Sicily is the richest region in carob trees. Their cultivation is concentrated in the strip of land between Dirillo and Anapo Valleys; in the province of Ragusa alone, and in particular, in Modica, there is 72% of the national carob trees, which support 70% of the Italian production and 78% of that of the island. In these areas, despite the frequent uprooting for intensive and greenhouse crops, carob trees still dominate the landscape and quite often they’re the only type of vegetation on the steepest terrain.

The most common varieties of carob tree in Sicily are “Latinissima”, “Racemosa”, “Morescona”, “Saccarata”, and “Falcata”.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Modica (Ragusa)(RG)

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