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Carob tree – Ceratonia siliqua – Il-Ħarruba

Carob tree – Ceratonia siliqua – Il-Ħarruba

The carob tree is also found at Chadwick Lakes in small numbers. This is an evergreen tree, growing on a large twisted trunk which is anything but smooth. It usually grows to a height of 6 m. but in a sheltered place it can reach 10 m.

The leaves of the tree are smooth, dark green, glossy from above and lighter green from below, having a leathery touch. These help the tree against the hot summer temperature and the strong sun, thus reducing loss of water.

The leaf is from 10 to 20 cm long, divided in smaller leaflets, resembling a feather. The oval leaflets, from 3 to 7 cm long, and tapering to a point from both ends, grow in pairs, one opposite the other on each side of the main stem. There can be from 4 to 10 pairs, occasionally with a single leaflet at the end of the main stem.

The carob tree has male and female flowers without petals, growing on separate trees. These can be seen during autumn, usually from October to November.

The female flowers are dark red or green with a red tinge, growing close to each other on old trunks or branches.

The male flowers, full of pollen, resembles yellow cones on the male trees. The pollen reaches the female flowers either with the help of insect pollinators, or carried by the wind.

The fruit of the carob tree is a long flat 10 to 20 cm pod, 1.5 to 3.5 mm thick and 1 cm wide. At first this pod is green but in August it turns brown with a purple tinge.

The carob tree is protected by Maltese regulations.

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