Punica granatum

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Related Links
Fruits and leaves.
© Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA
Detail of fruits and flowers.
© Morton J.
Seedling of the dwarf form of pomegranate damaged by microscopic mites of the Eriophyoidea
© Neser S
Leaves at Kula, Maui, Hawaii
© Forest and Kim Starr
Flowers at Kula, Maui, Hawaii
© Forest and Kim Starr
Seeds at Kula, Maui, Hawaii
© Forest and Kim Starr
Flowers at Kula, Maui, Hawaii
© forest and Kim Starr

Local names:
Arabic (darabhte-naiy), Bengali (assami,dalim), Burmese (thale,talebin,salebin), Chinese (shiliu), Dutch (granaatappel), English (wild pomegranate,pomegranate,dwarf pomegranate,tree of knowledge), Filipino (granada), French (grenade,grenadier,pomme grena

Punica granatum is a small multi-stemmed shrub/tree 5-10 m tall. Canopy open, crown base low. Stem woody and spiny, bark smooth and dark grey.

Leaves simple, 2-8 cm long, oblong or obovate, glabrous, oppositely placed, short-petioled surface shining.

Flowers regular, solitary or in fascicles at apices, 4-6 cm. Petals lanceolate, 5-7, wrinkled and brilliant orange-red. Hypanthium coloured, 5-8 lobed. Anthers numerous. Calyx persistent.

Fruit a round berry, 5-12 cm, pericarp leathery. Interior compartmentalized with many pink-red sections of pulp-like tissue, each contains a seed grain. Fruits globose with persistent callipe and a coriaceous woody rind.

Seeds numerous, angular with fleshy testa, 1.3 cm long.

Two subspecies are recognized on basis of ovary colour; subsp. chlorocarpa and porphyrocarpa. Numerous cultivars, some dating to the 13th Century, are known.
The specific epithet granatum derives from Latin granum "grain" and means "many-grained". 
Only two species, P. granatum and P. protopunica, are known for this monogeneric family with close affiliations to the Lythraceae. P. protopunica is endemic to Socotra and is listed as an endangered plant in the IUCN Red List.


Pomegranate is susceptible to fire, frost (at -11 deg C damage to trees is irrecoverable) and strongly alkaline soils but tolerates soil compaction, drought and seasonal waterlogging.

Native range
Afghanistan, Iran, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Tunisia

Tree management

Generally, P. granatum is slow growing. Lopping, pruning and coppicing are recommended management practices. Thinning should be done occasionally to ensure good aeration and interception of sunlight. Periodical spraying with 2 g mancozeb/litre of water is enough. Fruit cracking damage due to severe drought and boron deficiency is a serious problem tackled by irrigation and spraying 0.25% Boron solution. Plants should be protected from browsers. The fruit borer is controlled by removal of affected fruits and use of insecticides. Generally most pests are managed by hygienic orchard management and insecticides. Root pruning limits fruiting. When harvested unripe fruits may be stored for 5-6 months.

No seed pretreatment is required. Average germination rates between 30-70% are recorded for pomegranate. Seeds lose viability after a month. There are about 31 000 seeds per kg.

Pomegranate is susceptible to fire, frost (at -11 deg C damage to trees is irrecoverable) and strongly alkaline soils but tolerates soil compaction, drought and seasonal waterlogging.

P. granatum is grown mainly from rooted and hardwood cuttings, direct seeding and air layering. Direct seeding is discouraged because of segregation. Mature stem cuttings of size 20-30 cm are planted for rooting in polybags of 20 x 13 cm with 300 gauge thickness containing a mixture of red soil, sand and well decomposed compost in equal proportions. Farm manure is applied at the rate of 10 kg per seedling. The rooted cuttings are ready for planting after 60 days in pits measuring 60 x 60 x 60 cm dug 3-5 m apart. Irrigation is vital after planting. Trees should be manured annually and trained with a single stem up to 30-45 cm or as a bush with 3 or 4 main stems. The seedlings stay for 12-18 months in the nursery.

P. granatum is a drought tolerant tree suitable for arid and semi-arid zone afforestation. A resilient tree whose withering is mentioned as the judgement of God upon evil on the earth.

Erosion control:  This deep rooting tree is important in soil erosion control, and is planted along rivers to stabilize banks.

  The seeds have a fresh, sweet-sour, very pleasant taste, grenadine, a reduced juice from fresh pomegranate seeds, is common in Northern India for desserts, marinating and tenderizing meat due to its proteolytic enzymes. Dried pomegranate seeds, ‘anardana’, has culinary importance as spice for vegetable and legume dishes in Northern India. They impart a subtle, sweet-sour and tart flavour popular in Punjab and Gujrat. The edible fruit portion contains 10% sugars, 36.6 mg Vitamin C/100 ml of juice, 2.6% protein, 0.1% Phosphorous, 0.4% Potassium, 0.03%, 0.1% Calcium and 0.13% Magnesium.

The leaves are browsed by domesticated stock.

Tree branches used as firewood.

Timber:  The wood is hard and durable, mostly used in making farm implements.

Shade or shelter:  Pomegranate is an important shade tree and its wind firm stature makes it a good wind break.

Tannin or dyestuff:  The root bark yields a black ink rich in tannins and useful in dyeing/tanning leather.

Medicine:  The bark of the pomegranate tree may be used as a very strong purgative, but it has several serious side-effects. The fresh root bark is used in an anthelmintic preparation, the alkaloid punicine is responsible for this activity. Unripe fruit and flowers are significant emetics. Ripe fruits are laxative and blood enriching also useful in managing sore throat, spre eyes, brain diseases and chest troubles.

Ornamental:  Leaf resprouts of the pomegranate are a beautiful light red, making it a suitable ornamental choice for gardens and amenity parks, especially in cultivar ‘nana’. The beautiful persistent calyx in pomegranate was inspiration for King Solomon’s and later other European crowns.

The tree is sometimes used for fencing.

Soil improver:  Pomegranate leaf litter decomposes slowly and is suitable for mulching.

Intercropping:  Pomegranate grows along well with grapes in Mediterranean countries.

Other uses:  Greatly mentioned in the Bible, the skirt of the priest’s blue robe and ephod was adorned with the reprints of pomegranates.

Pollution control:  Used in water purification.