Small carob (Caesalpinia brevifolia Baill.) Is a shrub species belonging to the Fabaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Plantae Kingdom, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Fabales Order, the Fabaceae Family, the Caesalpinioideae Subfamily, the Caesalpinieae Tribe and therefore to the Genus Caesalpinia and to the Species C. brevifolia.
The terms are synonymous:
– Balsamocarpon brevifolia;
– Balsamocarpon brevifolium Clos;
– Zuccagnia microphylla Vogel 1843.
The term Caesalpinia of the genus was dedicated by Linnaeus to Andrea Cesalpino (“Andreas Caesalpini”, 1519-1603), botanist, philosopher and doctor of Pope Clement VIII; in his De Plantis Libri he illustrated a taxonomic system based on the reproductive structures of plants and was denounced by theologians because in ‘Genesis’ there is no mention of the sexual organs of plants.
The specific epithet brevifolia comes from short, short brévis and folium leaf: from short leaves.
Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Small carob is a plant native to Chile where it is found in the center and south of the Atacama region and in the north of the Coquimbo region. It is considered a vulnerable species in both regions. Despite its conservation status, it is still used to produce coal. In the past, the fruits from which the tannin was obtained were collected.
Its habitat is that of low-altitude areas, inland valleys and coastal mountains, between 500 and 2000 m. s.l.m ..
Caesalpinia brevifolia is a 1-2 m tall shrub with branches, branches with small yellowish tubers, which carry up to 3 thin and downward spines of 3-5 mm.
The leaves are dark green, 3-8 mm long with 3-4 pairs of leaflets, alternate from elliptical-obovate to orbicular.
The flowers are 8-12 mm large; chalice with 5 pubescent sepals; corolla with yellow petals, the central-upper one, with a reddish spot, 10 stamens and a stylus.
The antesis is from August to November.
The fruit is a 2.5-4 x 1.5 cm thick mourning, with hard shell and reddish color, rich in tannin and with seeds flattened inside. This fruit is called a taco.
Caesalpinia brevifolia is a plant that grows in a dry and arid climate, with long periods of drought (6 – 10 months), the rainfall is between 100 and 300 mm. and are concentrated in the winter.
To grow, the plant must be completely exposed to the sun. The plant does not tolerate cold.
The seed production mainly depends on the amount of rain that falls during the winter period before fruiting.
Being a legume, the seeds of this species must spend a period of dormancy, which is why it is necessary to carry out pre-germination treatments that allow you to remove the cover, by means of chemical or mechanical scarification.
Chemical scarification can be carried out by immersing in sulfuric acid for 60 minutes and then washing in running water. This allows (in the laboratory) to obtain germination rates of 80% in the laboratory.
Even the seeds scarified by abrasion with sandpaper and subsequent soaking in sulfuric acid for 15 minutes give good results. Hot water treatment can cause seed loss.
The seeds without scarification treatment are not able to germinate due to the thick layer that covers them.
Seed germination takes place between three and four, maximum six days after sowing.
The substrate where to implant can be sterile soil and sand in 1: 1 proportions, which must be disinfected with fungicides.
In this species, vegetative propagation tests have not been successfully conducted by rooting cuttings.
The Fusarium oxysporum mushroom can attack seedlings from the third month.
Uses and Traditions –
The seeds of this plant are a rich source of tannins. They can be used as urinary astringents; Gallic tannic acid is primarily responsible for this activity.
The tannin content of the seeds can reach 65%.
They can be used in the preparation of medicines, inks and dyes.
This plant, despite the worrying decrease in its areas of origin, is still exploited to produce firewood and coal.
It is also grown for ornamental purposes.
Method of Preparation –
The seeds are used for medicinal purposes or for the production of inks and dyes.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.