Fruit of pomegranate
| Scientific classification
|| P. granatum|
| Binomial name
| Punica granatum|
The Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–8 m tall. The pomegranate is native to the region from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region and the Caucasus since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, India, the drier parts of southeast Asia, Peninsular Malaysia, the East Indies, and tropical Africa. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated mainly in the drier parts of California and Arizona for its fruits exploited commercially as juice products gaining in popularity since 2001. In the global functional food industry, pomegranate is included among a novel category of exotic plant sources called superfruits.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to January. In the Southern hemisphere, it is in season from March to May.
Foliage and fruit
The leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3–7 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red, 3 cm in diameter, with four to five petals (often more on cultivated plants). The fruit is between a lemon and a grapefruit in size, 5–12 cm in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has thick reddish skin and around 600 seeds. The seeds and surrounding pulp, ranging in colour from white to deep red, called arils, are edible; indeed, the fruit of the pomegranate is a berry. There are some cultivars which have been introduced that have a range of pulp colours such as purple.
Punica granatum nana is a dwarf variety of P. granatum popularly used as Bonsai trees and as a patio plant. The only other species in the genus Punica is the Socotran pomegranate (Punica protopunica), which is endemic to the island of Socotra. It differs in having pink (not red) flowers and smaller, less sweet fruit. Pomegranates are drought tolerant, and can be grown in dry areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall climates. In wetter areas, they are prone to root decay from fungal diseases. They are tolerant of moderate frost, down to about −10°C (14°F).
|Pomegranate, aril only
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|Energy 70 kcal 290 kJ|
|Percentages are relative to US|
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
The name "pomegranate" derives from Latin pomum ("apple") and granatus ("seeded"). This has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages (e.g. German Granatapfel, seeded apple). The genus name Punica is named for the Phoenicians, who were active in broadening its cultivation, partly for religious reasons. In classical Latin, where "malum" was broadly applied to many apple-like fruits, the pomegranate's name was malum punicum or malum granatum, the latter giving rise to the Italian name melograno, or less commonly melagrana.
A separate, widespread root for "pomegranate" comes from the Ancient Egyptian rmn, from which derive the Hebrew rimmôn, and Arabic rummân. This root was given by Arabs to other languages, including Portuguese (romã), Kabyle rrumman and Maltese "rummien".
The pomegranate ('rimmôn') is mentioned in the Bible as one of the seven fruits/plants that Israel was blessed with, and in Hebrew, 'rimmôn' is also the name of the weapon now called the grenade.
According to the OED, the word grenade originated about 1532 from the French name for the pomegranate, la grenade. La grenade also gives us the word grenadine, the name of a kind of fruit syrup, originally made from pomegranates, which is widely used as a cordial and in cocktails.
Even though this fruit does not originate from China, one common nickname is "Chinese apple." In German and Dutch, the term "Chinese Apple" (apfelsine in German), refers to the orange
Cultivation and uses
The pomegranate originated from Persia and has been cultivated in Georgia, Armenia and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.
In Georgia, and Armenia to the east of the Black Sea, there are wild pomegranate groves outside of ancient abandoned settlements. The cultivation of the pomegranate has a long history in Armenia, where decayed remains of pomegranates dating back to 1000 BC have been found. 
Carbonized exocarp of the fruit has been identified in Early Bronze Age levels of Jericho, as well as Late Bronze Age levels of Hala Sultan Tekke on Cyprus and Tiryns
It is also extensively grown in South China and in Southeast Asia, whether originally spread along the route of the Silk Road or brought by sea traders.
. A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Queen Hatshepsut; Mesopotamian cuneiform records mention pomegranates from the mid-Third millennium BC onwards.
The ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period. Spanish colonists later introduced the fruit to the Caribbean and Latin America, but in the English colonies it was less at home: "Don't use the pomegranate inhospitably, a stranger that has come so far to pay his respects to thee," the English Quaker Peter Collinson wrote to the botanizing John Bartram in Philadelphia, 1762. "Plant it against the side of thy house, nail it close to the wall. In this manner it thrives wonderfully with us, and flowers beautifully, and bears fruit this hot year. I have twenty-four on one tree... Doctor Fothergill says, of all trees this is most salutiferous to mankind." The pomegranate had been introduced as an exotic to England the previous century, by John Tradescant the elder, but the disappointment that it did not set fruit there led to its repeated introduction to the American colonies, even New England. It succeeded in the South: Bartram received a barrel of pomegranates and oranges from a correspondent in Charleston, South Carolina, 1764. Thomas Jefferson planted pomegranates at Monticello in 1771: he had them from George Wythe of Williamsburg.
After opening the pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the skin (peel) and internal white supporting structures (pith and carpellary membrane). Separating the red arils can be simplified by performing this task in a bowl of water, whereby the arils will sink and the white structures will float to the top. The entire seed is consumed raw, though the fleshy outer portion of the seed is the part that is desired. The taste differs depending on the variety of pomegranate and its state of ripeness. It can be very sweet or it can be very sour or tangy, but most fruits lie somewhere in between, which is the characteristic taste, laced with notes of its tannin.
Pomegranate juice is a popular drink in the Middle East, and is also used in Iranian and Indian cuisine; it began to be widely marketed in the United States in 2002 . Fresh pomegranate arils are used in preparation of curd rice (Telugu: Dadhojanam) in Andhra Pradesh in India. Pomegranate concentrate is used in Syrian cuisine. Grenadine syrup is thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice; it is used in cocktail mixing. Before the tomato arrived in the Middle East, grenadine was widely used in many Persian foods; it can still be found in traditional recipes such as fesenjan (a thick sauce made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, usually spooned over duck or other poultry and rice) and ash-e anar (pomegranate soup) .
Wild pomegranate seeds are sometimes used as a spice, known as anardana (which literally means pomegranate (anar) seeds (dana) in Persian), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine but also as a replacement for pomegranate syrup in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine. As a result of this, the dried whole seeds can often be obtained in ethnic markets. The seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10–15 days and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry production. The seeds may also be ground in order to avoid seeds becoming stuck in the teeth when eating dishes prepared with them. The seeds of the wild pomegranate daru from the Himalayas are considered the highest quality source for this spice.
In Armenia and the Caucasus, pomegranate (Armenian: nur) is used in a variety of ways, notably as pomegranate juice.  In Turkey pomegranate sauce, (Turkish: nar ekşisi) is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat, or simply to drink straight. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and sometimes to garnish desserts such as Güllaç. Pomegranate syrup or molasses are used in Muhammara, a Roasted Red Pepper, Walnut, and Garlic Spread popular in Syria as well as Turkey.  In Azerbaijan and Armenia, pomegranate is also used to make high-quality wine which is successfully exported to other countries.
In Greece, pomegranate (Greek: ροδι, rodi) is used in many recipes; such as kollivozoumi, a delicious creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins; legume salad with wheat and pomegranate; traditional Middle Eastern lamb kebabs with pomegranate glaze; pomegranate eggplant relish; avocado and pomegranate dip; are just some of the dishes in which it is used. Pomegranate is also made into a liqueur and popular fruit confectionery that can be used as ice cream topping, or mixed with yogurt, and even spread as jams over toast for breakfast.
Providing 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, pomegranate juice is also a good source of the B vitamin, pantothenic acid, potassium and antioxidant polyphenols. Overall, however, pomegranate is not a significant source of nutrients.
The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate juice are the hydrolyzable tannins called punicalagins shown in 39 peer-reviewed research publications over 1990-2007 (August) to have potent free-radical scavenging ability in laboratory studies. The antioxidant punicalagins absorb into the human body after consumption of pomegranate extracts,
and an ex vivo study of human plasma after consumption of a pomegranate extract standardized to punicalagins indicated an average 32% increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.
Many food and dietary supplement makers have found the advantages of using pomegranate extracts (which have no sugar, calories, or additives), instead of the juice, as healthy ingredients in their products. Many pomegranate extracts are essentially ellagic acid, which may only be absorbed into the body after consumption of punicalagins.
In preliminary laboratory research and human pilot studies, juice of the pomegranate has been found effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation, all of which are steps in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Tannins such as punicalagins have been identified as the primary components responsible for the reduction of oxidative stress which led to these risk factors. Pomegranate has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).
Metabolites of pomegranate juice ellagitannins have been shown to localize specifically in the prostate gland, colon and intestinal tissues of mice. Other research indicates that pomegranate juice may be effective against prostate cancer and osteoarthritis. In 2007, five clinical trials in the United States and Norway were conducted to examine the effects of pomegranate juice consumption on parameters of prostate cancer or prostatic hyperplasia, diabetes or lymphoma.. The studies have not concluded (December 2007) but interim reports released to the public media were that pomegranate juice may slow onset or development of prostate cancer (above).
The juice may also have antiviral and antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
The dried stem and root bark of the tree contain about 0.4-0.9% alkaloids.
In a recent (completed in November of 2007) study by the USDA, results showed that the regular consumption of pomegranates or pomegranate juice could negate the harmful effects of prolonged exposure to the low levels electromagnetic radiation from computers, cell phones, and other household electronic devices.
Pomegranates and symbolism
- Exodus 28:33–34 directed that images of pomegranates be woven onto the borders of Hebrew priestly robes. 1 Kings 7:13–22 describes pomegranates depicted in the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. However, the actual number of seeds varies with individual fruits. For this reason and others, many Jews eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. The pomegranate is one of the few images which appear on ancient coins of Judea as a holy symbol, and today many Torah scrolls are stored while not in use with a pair of decorative hollow silver "pomegranates" (rimmonim) slid down over the two upper scroll handles.
- For the same reason, pomegranates are a motif found in Christian religious decoration. They are often woven into the fabric on vestments and liturgical hangings or wrought in metalwork.
- The wild pomegranate did not grow natively in the Aegean area in Neolithic times. It originated in eastern Iran and came to the Aegean world along the same cultural pathways that brought the goddess whom the Anatolians worshipped as Cybele and the Mesopotamians as Ishtar.
- The myth of Persephone, the dark goddess of the Underworld, also prominently features the pomegranate. In one version of Greek mythology, Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken off to live in the underworld as his wife. Her mother, Demeter (goddess of the Harvest), went into mourning for her lost daughter and thus all green things ceased to grow. Zeus, the highest ranking of the Greek gods, could not leave the Earth to die, so he commanded Hades to return Persephone. It was the rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Persephone had no food, but Hades tricked her into eating four pomegranate seeds while she was still his prisoner and so, because of this, she was condemned to spend four months in the Underworld every year. During these four months, when Persephone is sitting on the throne of the Underworld next to her husband Hades, her mother Demeter mourns and no longer gives fertility to the earth. This became an ancient Greek explanation for the seasons. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting Persephona depicts Persephone holding the fatal fruit.
- It should be noted that the number of seeds that Persephone ate is varied, depending on which version of the story is told. The number of seeds she is said to have eaten ranges from three to seven, which accounts for just one barren season if it is just three or four seeds, or two barren seasons (half the year) if she ate six or seven seeds. There is no set number.
- The pomegranate also evoked the presence of the Aegean Triple Goddess who evolved into the Olympian Hera, who is sometimes represented offering the pomegranate, as in the Polykleitos' cult image of the Argive Heraion (see below). According to Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples, the chambered pomegranate is also a surrogate for the poppy's narcotic capsule, with its comparable shape and chambered interior. On a Mycenaean seal illustrated in Joseph Campbell's Occidental Mythology 1964, figure 19, the seated Goddess of the double-headed axe (the labrys) offers three poppy pods in her right hand and supports her breast with her left. She embodies both aspects of the dual goddess, life-giving and death-dealing at once. The Titan Orion was represented as "marrying" Side, a name that in Boeotia means "pomegranate", thus consecrating the primal hunter to the Goddess. Other Greek dialects call the pomegranate rhoa; its possible connection with the name of the earth goddess Rhea, inexplicable in Greek, proved suggestive for the mythographer Karl Kerenyi, who suggested that the consonance might ultimately derive from a deeper, pre-Indo-European language layer.
- In the 6th century BC, Polykleitos took ivory and gold to sculpt the seated Argive Hera in her temple. She held a scepter in one hand and offered a pomegranate, like a royal orb, in the other. "About the pomegranate I must say nothing," whispered the traveller Pausanias in the 2nd century, "for its story is something of a mystery." Indeed, in the Orion story we hear that Hera cast pomegranate-Side (an ancient city in Antalya) into dim Erebus — "for daring to rival Hera's beauty", which forms the probable point of connection with the older Osiris/Isis story. Since the ancient Egyptians identified the Orion constellation in the sky as Sah the "soul of Osiris", the identification of this section of the myth seems relatively complete. Hera wears, not a wreath nor a tiara nor a diadem, but clearly the calyx of the pomegranate that has become her serrated crown. In some artistic depictions, the pomegranate is found in the hand of Mary, mother of Jesus.
- In modern times the pomegranate still holds strong symbolic meanings for the Greeks. On important days in the Greek Orthodox calendar, such as the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and on Christmas Day, it is traditional to have at the dinner table "polysporia", also known by their ancient name "panspermia," in some regions of Greece. In ancient times they were offered to Demeter and to the other gods for fertile land, for the spirits of the dead and in honor of compassionate Dionysus.
- When one buys a new home, it is conventional for a house guest to bring as a first gift a pomegranate, which is placed under/near the ikonostasi, (home altar), of the house, as it is a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck. Pomegranates are also prominent at Greek weddings and funerals. When Greeks commemorate their dead, they make kollyva as offerings, which consist of boiled wheat, mixed with sugar and decorated with pomegranate. It is also traditional in Greece to break a pomegranate on the ground at weddings and on New Years. Pomegranate decorations for the home are very common in Greece and sold in most homegoods stores .
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- The pomegranate is the symbol and heraldic device of the city of Granada in Andalusia, Spain.
- Pomegranate is one of the symbols of Armenia, representing fertility, abundance and marriage.
- It is the official logo of many cities in Turkey.
- The Immortals, an elite infantry unit in ancient Persia, had spears with pomegranate-shaped counterweights at the butt made of gold (for officers) and silver (for regular infantry). In modern Iran the fruit is still believed to a give long and healthy life.
- The Qur'an mentions pomegranates three times (6:99, 6:141, 55:068) — twice as examples of the good things God creates, once as a fruit found in the Garden of Paradise.
- Pomegranate juice stains clothing permanently unless it is washed out immediately with water — only bleach can remove stains.
- Pomegranate juice is used for natural dyeing of non-synthetic fabrics.
- Pomegranate juice is sold in the USA under several labels, and is available in health food stores and supermarkets across the country.
- Pomegranate juice will turn blue when subjected to basic (ie alkaline) conditions (similar to litmus paper).
- Although not native to China, Korea or Japan, the pomegranate is widely grown there and many cultivars have been developed. It is widely used for bonsai, because of its flowers and for the unusual twisted bark that older specimens can attain.
- The pomegranate also gave its name to the hand grenade from its shape and size (and the resemblance of a pomegranate's seeds to a grenade's fragments) and thus also grenadiers, and to the garnet from its colour. In many languages (including Belarusian, Spanish, French, Polish, Russian and Hebrew) the words are exactly the same.
- Balaustines are the red rose-like flowers of the pomegranate, which are very bitter to the taste. In medicine, its dried form has been used as an astringent. (The term "balaustine" (Latin: balaustinus) is also used for a pomegranate-red colour.)
- The pomegranate was the personal emblem of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, and of Catherine of Aragon.
- Grenadine syrup, used in mixed drinks, was originally made from pomegranates, however most grenadine no longer contains any fruit, only corn syrup and food colouring
- With the rise in popularity of the pomegranate in American markets, Starbucks introduced a pomegranate frappuccino in the summer of 2006.
- The pomegranate is a divine symbol in Pinto Ricardo's series, The Stone Dance of the Chameleon.
- The pomegranate is also called the Food of the Dead.
- In Orthodox Christian memorial services pomegranate seeds will often be put in the koliva which is blessed after the service and eaten by all of the mourners.
- In the Hindu epic Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila, 5.188), Sri Nityananda's teeth were described as resembling pomegranate seeds.
- In Mexico, they are an essential ingredient of chiles en nogada, one of its most important national dishes, used to symbolize the red component of the national flag.
- Kandahar is famous all over Afghanistan for its high quality pomegranates.
- The pomegranate is also known as a Wine Apple in Ireland.
- ^ Fletcher A. Super fruits set to dominate flavour market, FoodNavigator.com-Europe, March 2006
- ^ Staff Reporter. Fresh, super and organic top trends for 2008, FoodNavigator.com-USA, November 2007 
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- ^ How many seeds does a pomegranate have? (statistical analysis), demonstrating parietal placentation.
- ^ Habeeb Salloum Arabian Memories in Portugal
- ^ S. D. Doijode, Seed Storage of Horticultural Crops, p. 77
- ^ The pomegranate in mythology
- ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 171.
- ^ Quoted in Ann Leighton, American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century: "For Use or for Delight", (University of Massachusetts, 1986), p. 242.
- ^ Leighton, American Gardens, p. 272.
- ^ Bulletin - Page 52 by United States Bureau of Plant Industry, Division of Plant Industry, Queensland
- ^ Akgün, Müge. ""Güllaç, a dainty and light dessert"", Turkish Daily News, Istanbul: DYH, 2006-09-22. Retrieved on 2007-12-26.
- ^ Malouf, Greg and Lucy (2006). Saha. Australia: Hardie Grant Books, 46. ISBN 0794604900.
- ^  Nutrition data
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- ^ Mertens-Talcott SU, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, Rios J, Hingorani L, Derendorf H (2006). "Absorption, metabolism, and antioxidant effects of pomegranate (Punica granatum l.) polyphenols after ingestion of a standardized extract in healthy human volunteers". J. Agric. Food Chem. 54 (23): 8956-61. doi:10.1021/jf061674h. PMID 17090147.
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Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure Atherosclerosis 2001 Sep;158(1):195–8
- ^ Seeram NP, Aronson WJ, Zhang Y et al. Pomegranate ellagitannin-derived metabolites inhibit prostate cancer growth and localize to the mouse prostate gland. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Sep 19;55(19):7732-7. Abstract
- ^ Can pomegranates prevent prostate cancer? A new study offers promise 26 September 2005
- ^ BBC Juice 'can slow prostate cancer' 1 July 2006
- ^ Pomegranate Fruit Shown To Slow Cartilage Deterioration In Osteoarthritis
- ^  NIH-listed human clinical trials on pomegranate
- ^ Neurath AR, Strick N, Li YY, Debnath AK (2004). "Punica granatum (Pomegranate) juice provides an HIV-1 entry inhibitor and candidate topical microbicide". BMC Infect. Dis. 4: 41. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-4-41. PMID 15485580.
- ^ Menezes SM, Cordeiro LN, Viana GS (2006). "Punica granatum (pomegranate) extract is active against dental plaque". Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy 6 (2): 79-92. PMID 17182487.
- ^ Pomegranate (Herbdata New Zealand)
- ^ Alexander Haubold, How many seeds does a pomegranate have? And does a larger pomegranate yield proportionally more seed volume?
- ^ Ruck and Staples, The World of Classical Myth, 1994.
- ^ The pomegranate has a calyx shaped like a crown. In Jewish tradition it has been seen as the original "design" for the proper crown. 
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