Ceratonia siliqua (38)
|Ceratonia siliqua male flowers|
Large evergreen tree with leathery leaves.
The genus belongs to the Caesalpinioideae
subfamily of the Fabaceae.
It has a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern distribution.
It is a widespread wild and cultivated plant in Cyprus and in the last century the fruit was the chief export of Cyprus. It is a drought resistant plant, requiring no water and is well suited to the Mediterranean climate. It is chiefly cultivated for its pods, which are used as animal fodder and also to extract a sweet syrup for human consumption. It is also used as a substitute for chocolates.
It is also reported to have aphrodisiac qualities but don't take too much as there are other unforeseen consequences!
The seeds are remarkably constant in weight and in ancient times were used for weighing precious metals- hence the name carat. In late Roman times the gold coin known as solidus weighed 24 seeds, hence pure gold has a weight of 24 carats.
The species of the genus Ceratonia are thought to be relics of a much greater genus. Until recently
C. siliqua was thought to be the only member until a second species, Ceratonia oreothauma was discovered in Yemen.
The tree is mostly dioecious with the flowers appearing on one year old branches in autumn.
They carry no petals and insects are attracted by nectar produced by the male flowers.
There are 5 anthers per flower, opposite the calyx lobes.
The photo shows the male flowers, in the workshop the female flowers and a pod are shown