Locust beans are seeds obtained from the pods of the African locust tree, Parkia biglobosa, which belongs to the family Mimosaceae. These trees grow in parts of West Africa. African locust bean is sometimes called carob because of their similarities in appearance, but they are different from each other.
Carob comes from Ceratonia siliqua tree, typically found in the Mediterranean. It is also called Mediterranean locust beans, which explains the confusion between the two. Mediterranean and African locust beans are used differently. Mediterranean locust bean pods are dried and processed into carob powder which could be used as an alternative to cocoa powder. Carob bean gum is also used to make thickeners and stabilizers for the Food Industry.
Locust beans tree is important in the regions where they are cultivated. The trees offer shade and fix Nitrogen in the soil. The mature elongated pods contain powdery sweet yellow pulp enclosing the seeds. This pulp is a rich source of nutrients, and the seeds, which are the economically important part, are fermented into the condiment – fermented locust beans/dawadawa.