Having an evergreen tree look, carob tree reaches 10 m and has a broad, thick-bowed crown, or sometimes appears to be a many-stemmed shrub.
The leaves are pinnate, smooth-edged leathery leaflets, dark green to russet in color. It blossoms in July to October when the catkins appear hanging from mature branches. By the end of the summer the mature pods are 10-30 cm long, flat, and bright resembling a curved goat’s horn. Each pod contains a number of flat, shining brown seeds like huge lentils. In the past there were used as jewelers’ weight, hence apparently the word "carat".
Found all over the Mediterranean coasts of Southern Europe, Cyprus, Syria and North America, carob is usually planted together in mixed cultures with olives, pruned and grafted at an early stage. The best carob growing areas of North Cyprus spread in the Kyrenia range. Up to 600 m it can be found anywhere with peculiar dry and stony soil. It is also an excellent source of firewood.
The fruit is very sweet, tasty and often used for feeding animals. In Cyprus it is also consumed in form of pekmez spread and in America it is popular as the chocolate substitute. The resin extracted from the seeds is also used in cosmetics, paper and textile industry.
Included in the mulberry family, common fig is a low, deciduous shrub or tree reaching 5 to 8 m, having the leaves with the deep lobes, standing alternately, rough above and soft hairy below. The common fig, native to southwest Asia, is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries.
The separate male and female flowers form in March and April on the inside of a closed top shaped receptacle which takes about two years to ripen into the green to purplish fruit.
Another species of fig, the sycamore fig, is a taller tree that also bears edible fruit. The figs are pear-shaped, sweet, and slightly aromatic but inferior comparing to the common fig.
In addition to cultivated garden forms, figs are found spontaneously in river bends or elsewhere with a high underground water level. The wild forms occur up to 600 m where shielded from the effects of the sea but much yielding are the grafted specimens cultivated in the gardens.
Commercial production of cultivated figs has become widespread throughout the Mediterranean region and most of the fruit is dried before marketing.
The oldest living thing in Cyprus: "The Cathedral Fig Tree inFamagusta"
Being of huge size, the old fig tree rises in front of the main entrance to the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St Nicholas Cathedral) in Famagusta. It is believed to be planted when the cathedral was established in 1220 A.D. making it more than 780 years old. It belongs to a variety of tropical fig tree `Ficus sycomorus', which is native to East Africa. Its main trunk is surrounded by smaller trunks which come out of the main trunk and it appears that they have sprung up from the colossal root system. According to an old Turkish-Cypriot who has lived all his life near to the cathedral `there are seven of these trunks round the main trunk, one for every hundred years'. Some might think that it is just a legendary story but there exists scientific truth to this. The tree is indexed in the Department of Culture’s National Heritage List and is looked after by the Department of Forestry Famagusta Office.
Reaching up to 25 m, date palm has a simple disbranched trunk culminated in a terminal bud while its lower part is covered with old dried fronds. The pinnate fronds arise in a close spiral from the trunk and may vary in length from 2 to 5 m according to the size and the age of the tree.
The flowers appear in large sprays in March, each female one containing a usually yellow ovary which becomes a familiar oval fruit.
As for the water reception, a well-developed root system enables the palm to use of the underground water-tables even in the driest places.
The origin of the date palms being Arabic, it was later brought to Cyprus. Because of their drought-resistant features it was soon planted individually throughout the island. Recently they have been much planted in parks and gardens, as well as along the roadsides, indicating the typical look of old Turkish suburbs, mosque courtyards and they can be found around the city walls too.
There are also other members of the palm family (Palmae) occurring in North Cyprus. Thick-trunked Canary Palm ( Phoenix canariensis) and the very different looking Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) from California and Arizona are one of them. These palms grow in places which have been rendered dry by the extended root system, lining the shores and roadsides to make impressive sites for the benefit of tourists for whom also the basketry and wickerwork souvenirs are made from the palm leaves and fibres.
Among the most picturesque specimens in North Cyprus are those of the Mare Monte hotel in Alsancak, at the Primary Holiday Village, at Lapta’s Yavuzlar high school, Kyrenia harbor and the Maras area in Famagusta.
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