Other Common Names:
The other common names for the johns bread is Carob and St.john's bread.
Many plants have a rich history of use throughout time, but few can probably out boast the humble carob tree. It is said that the sweet pulpy fruit pods of the tree were the "locusts" that St. John survived on in the wilderness and thus the name associated with it. In 1811 and 1812, these pods were the principle food of the British Cavalry during the war and they have been much used for cattle fodder.
At one time, the seeds were in high demand by chemists, as singers thought that they cleared the throat. The seeds were even once used by jewellers as the original carat weight. Even medicinal uses have been found for the pods, with laxative and demulcent qualities being associated with them. The scientific name of the carob tree derives from the Greek keras, "horn", and Latin siliqua, alluding to the hardness and shape of the pod. The name for Carob is derived from the Greek word keras (horn, alluding to the pods) and perhaps same etymology as silique (narrow elongated seed capsule).
Native to the Mediterranean and Middle East, St. John's Bread is grown on the Carob Tree, which is a slow-growing ornamental that grows to about fifty feet in height, and it is cultivated for its abundance of pods, which are rich in protein and sugar. The tree itself is a native of the East Mediterranean area. It grows to 30 ft. with attractive, shiny green leaves and dark red flowers. It grows very well in dry areas and produces a beautiful wood with a pinkies hue.
The flowers of the carob are very small, inconspicuous and unisexual. Pollination happens by insects and the wind. Although the flowers of this tree are unisexual, there are occasions when flowers of both sexes occur on the same tree. The Carob tree matures slowly and bares pods in the 5th - 6th year. The pods are brown, usually straight and 10-20 cm long. Up to 2 feet long, green and skinny, the pods are often curled. The seed pods hang from the bottom of branches, near the trunk. The hard seeds inside the pods are not edible.
St. John's Bread, also called Carob Bean, is originally from the Mediterranean region and the western part of Asia, but today, it is grown mostly in Mediterranean countries.
Where most other trees will struggle, this tree will thrive in the harshest environments. It is commonly grown on rocky soils in coastal situations it has proved highly drought and radiant heat tolerant. Requires a free draining soil to really be at its best. Thus it is widely distributed in Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Montane vegetation of Mt. Hermon.
John's bread grows well in a pH in the range 6.2 to 8.6. The tree is very drought resistant, thriving even under arid conditions, the roots penetrating deep into the soil to find moisture. Seeds are pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. If the seed has not swollen then give it another soaking in warm water until it does swell up. Sow in a greenhouse in April. Germination should take place within 2 months. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.
The green flowers of the Johns bread are in bloom from August through November.
Pests and Diseases
The carob tree is normally free from severe insect and disease troubles and is a crop which traditionally has not been sprayed. In Spain, the most damaging insect is the polyphagous larva of the leopard moth (Zeuzera pyrina L.) which attacks the wood of trunk and branches, causing severe damage to young trees. It can be controlled by introducing a wire into the galleries to destroy the larvae or by filling the holes with pesticide paste. The pods sometimes become infested with the small and polyphagous larva of the carob moth (Myelois ceratoniae Z.) while maturing and before harvest is complete. Black aphids attack mainly the terminal shoots of young trees, and some hermaphrodite cultivars appear to show more susceptibility than females.
The seeds, pods and the bark are the most commonly
used parts of the tree for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
• The John's bread is used as a laxative and demulcent.
• It helps to relieve irritation within the gut.
• It's used as a laxative, an antidiarrheal and an astringent.
• Wood is hard and lustrous is also used for marquetry and walking sticks.
• A flour made from the ripe seedpods is demulcent and emollient.
• The fruit and the bark are used in herbal preparations.
• The seedpods are also used in the treatment of coughs.
• It is used in the treatment of sore throats.
• The seeds ground up produce a protein rich flour that contains no starch or sugar and is ideal for diabetics.
• Tannin-rich St. John's Bread has been used successfully in the treatment of acute-onset diarrhea.
• The pods are rich and sugar and are milled as a chocolate substitute.
• The pod contains less fat and more vitamins than cocoa, and is sold as cocoa substitute in health stores.
• The roasted seeds have even been used as a coffee substitute.
• The seeds yield a tragacanth-like gum (manogalactan), in the trade called "Tragasol", which is an important commercial stabilizer and thickener in bakery goods, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, cheese, salami, canned meats and fish, jelly, mustard, and other food products.
• A flour made from the seedpods is used in the cosmetic industry to make face-packs.
• In antiquity the seeds were used as a weight unit.
• St. John's Bread is also used for the production of alcohol.
• The seeds and the pods are also used as porridge.