The carob tree in Mallorca

The carob tree is typical of the dry regions on Mallorca island, it grows on land that isn’t particularly fertile and doesn’t need much looking after. Its wood has traditionally been used as firewood, and its fruit, the carob, was used as feed for draught animals. There was a significant increase in the consumption of carobs between the last third of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, and this was linked to the consumption by animals. Large quantities of carobs were exported both abroad and to Spain, but the progressive decline in the use of draught animals reduced demand. However, other uses were found for the carob, such as in the industrial production of chocolate with carob substituting cocoa and in the extraction of sugars, alcohol and laxatives. The carob seed is used in the production of plastics, although synthetic materials have detracted from its importance in this field. During the period of the Spanish Civil War and the post-war years, in which Spain was internationally isolatad, the carob took on a special significance in the production of foodstuffs that could not be easily imported, such as coffee.

The large increase in demand for carob seeds that occurred in the mid-seventies, which was due to demand from the food, paper and textile industries, created false hopes with respect to the cultivation of this product. As with the majority of traditional cultivations, the carob tree is currently in recession.

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