In Admiration of the Carob Tree

January 18th, 2019

It was always important for us to create a garden that sustained and delighted our guests throughout the year. For this reason, lanes of evergreen trees accompany the pathways to shelter our garden strollers from the sun, no matter the season. One of these varieties is the carob tree – an ancient species with a multitude of health benefits and a dense green canopy. On a sweltering summer day, you’ll find guests beneath these trees to enjoy their blissful shade, the delicate sweetness of their fruit and the low hum of busy bees above their heads.


Carob Tree in Babylonstoren

The carob tree has deep roots in history. It is known in Afrikaans as the Johannesbroodboom, a name derived from the belief that the flesh of carob pods sustained John the Baptist during his long trek through the desert. In the Bible, God gave Jonas shelter under a carob tree – a luxury which was quickly taken away to teach him a sound lesson in appreciating his fellow man and nature. Aside from its symbolic value, the carob tree has played practical roles as well. The size and weight of the carob seed is unfaltering in its consistency, a characteristic that was put to good use in the gold and diamond mines of Kimberley: 14 carob seeds were used to classify a 14-carat diamond. In Europe, the length of a carob seed was used to develop standard shoe sizes; a size 37, for example, is the length of 37 carob seeds in a row.


Carob Tree Seeds

Some people may be more familiar with carob as a health food. Once you get beyond the slight stinky cheese smell, the flesh of its pods is naturally sweet and can be nibbled on straight from the tree – Gundula likes to refer to carob pods as a ‘modern-day energy bar’. Just avoid the hard seeds, which need to be ground down to a fine powder before they can be consumed. Carob powder and products can be used as a caffeine-free and diabetic-friendly alternative to cocoa – it also contains around eight times more calcium than milk and a good dose of magnesium. In order to reap its benefits, Gundula likes to steep a sweet tea of roasted pods and a pinch of cardamom – a drink which has become wildly popular on the farm.


  1. Lynn says:

    Very interesting!
    Can guests have a taste of the tea?

  2. joy smith says:

    Fascinating info – thank you so much!

  3. Benita Raubenheimer says:

    Fassinerende inligting – baie dankie.

    {Our (Afrikaans) dog”s name is “Johannes!”

  4. jeremy norman says:

    Tut tut! On line three the author call the Carob a variety. Variety has a distinct botanical meaning; the carob is a species.
    The principal use of the carob in its native Mediterranean region is as cattle fodder. They grow slowly and live to a venerable age becoming gnarled and twisted as they age. It is indeed the grandaddy of endemic med tree species.Their roots are often to be found holding together an ancient dry stone wall as though gripping it in a wooden fist.

  5. Judi Thomas says:

    I grew a carob from seed collected at Vincent Palotti Hospital grounds.It has been planted at Eseltiesrus Donkey Sanctuary in memory of my late husband who also loved visiting Babylonstoren.

  6. Diana Hope Crummey says:

    I read recently that Babylonstoren was one of the worlds most beautiful gardens to visit. Congratulations Diana

  7. Ninon Carrington says:

    Thanks so much for those interesting facts. Amazing! I tasted one with Ernst Van Jaarsveld and really enjoyed it. What time of year do the pods appear ?

  8. janet sender says:

    You are truly amazing with all that you do and all that you share.

  9. Bev Gillespie says:

    We had many carob trees on our farm in Montagu, some bought and some grown from seed which I soaked then scarified. Very resistant to drought but grow very well when water is added. Lovely canopy. The pods, delicious. The sheep on our farm would break down fences to get to the pods, so enjoyable (addictive?) were they.

  10. Di Norton says:

    Please send me a recipe for the Sweet Carob & Cardamon Tea. Is sugar added or is it naturally sweet?
    Many thanks.

    I appreciate your articles.

  11. Aretha Theron says:

    Baie dankie . Ek vind die inligting baie interessant. Gaan soek vir Carob bome en anders na hulle kyk vlg keer!

  12. Danièle Falke says:

    Wonderful newsletter! It’s always a delight to read them, can’t wait for the next one

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