The carob tree is mentioned only in Luke 15:16 where fruits ("pods") are fodder for swine. Despite this single reference, the carob is one of the most common and widespread trees in Israel. In many areas, it is the dominant tree as well as being planted for its shade and fruit on a wide scale.
A large, much branched evergreen tree, the carob is a member of the legume family which includes such familiar plants as peas, beans, sweet pea, etc. But unlike most legumes, the flowers of carob are very small, inconspicuous and unisexual. The fruit is a pod-like structure six inches long and contains about ten hard seeds. These seeds are the size and shape of a small grain of corn (maize). Because of their uniform size they were once used as a standard measure of weight or carat which gives the plant its scientific name, Ceratonia siliqua.
The walls of the pod and the partitions in the fruit contain high concentrations of sugar and proteins and are the commercial source of carob, often used as a substitute for cocoa.