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Pomegranate

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Pomegranate
Arizona Pomegranate.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Punica granatum

Pomegranate.JPG

The pomegranate is a fruit-bearing flowering plant belonging to the taxonomic family Punicaceae. Although native to areas around Iran and the Himalayas in northern India, is widely known throughout the world for its tasty fruit. It has been incorporated into the culinary and cultural history of areas in the Mediterranean, Armenia, southeast Malaya, the East Indies, and tropical Africa [1]. The pomegranate is a perennial [2] plant ranging in size from a shrub to a small tree, roughly 5-8 meters in height. This plant prefers warm and dry climates and has been introduced into the U.S.; it is currently thriving in the southeastern states [3]. The fruits of the pomegranate are prized for its glossy red, juice seeds; which provide many health benefits, especially when made into juice. The shape of the fruit is rather like a grenade [4], which is appropriate considering that the grenade was named using the French word for pomegranate [5]. The Latin name for the pomegranate fruit is Pomum granatus, which means “seeded apple” [6].

Anatomy

Outer and cross-section images of the flowers, fruit, and seeds of the Punica granatum L.

The pomegranate tree varies in sizes, ranging from a trim shrub to a tree with a typical height of 12 to 16 feet in height (though they have been recorded to grow up to 30 ft high)[7]. The leaves of this tree are lustrous and are usually 3 to 7 cm long and 2 cm long; giving the leaves a narrow oblong shape. Its blossoms are generally 3 cm in diameter, have 5 petals, and are a dazzling shade of red in color. The fruit of the pomegranate (also known as “pomegranate”) is generally 7-12 cm in diameter and possesses a gently round hexagonal shape; as well as a thick, reddish-orange skin and approximately 600 seeds. The seeds, along with the seed pulp surrounding them, are the only edible parts of the pomegranate [8]. (For further information about specific cultivars of this tree please visit this site: [9])

Reproduction

As with most, if not all plants, the pomegranate may be grown by planting the seeds of the pomegranate’s fruit into reasonably fertile soil. However, the most reliable method of growing a pomegranate tree is to plant cuttings taken from another pomegranate tree (preferably taken from a fully mature, one-year old tree in the winter). It is advised that the cuttings be around 12 to 20 in. long, leaf-free, treated with rooting hormone and embedded roughly 2/3 their length into some sort of warm rooting medium (i.e.: soil). These cuttings will take root with ease and produce fruits within approximately 3 years[10].

Ecology

Pomegranate tree

Pomegranate fruits have many uses and most of those relate to the culinary arts or health benefits. The seeds may be eaten raw, but they may also be made (along with whatever other ingredients necessary) into delicious juice, used as a spice, made into a broth, jam, liqueur, etc. Culinary uses, especially pomegranate juice, for this scrumptious fruit are centered mainly in the Middle East, Iran, India, Syria, Persia, Turkey, Armenia and Greece (though it is rapidly increasing in popularity in the US). The health benefits are mainly the large quantities of vitamin C, folic acid, and antioxidants [11]. The fruit is also found in many customs and myths of various cultures found in the pomegranates native habitat (see this website for more information on these myths and customs: [12]).

References