Ajuntament de Barcelona

Punica granatum

Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden

    Catalan name: 
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    English name: 
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Punica malus, Punica nana, Punica spinosa, Punica florida, Rhoea punica, Granatum puniceum

    According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of this plant is least concern.

    Species characteristics
    Southwestern Asia
    Mild weather areas

    Deciduous tree 3-6 m tall, occasionally up to 8 m, with twisted hard-wood trunk and spread and very branched crown. The bark is flaky and greyish and some branches can have prickles.

    The leaves are opposite and simple, 3-8 cm long and 2 cm wide, oval or spear-shaped and narrow, bright green coloured and slightly leathery. The petiole is short.

    The bell-shaped flowers are solitary and big (3 cm in diameter). They appear in 2-5 specimens groups at the end of the new branches. The corolla has between five and eight petals, usually red and bright, and sepals remaining on the fruit.

    The fruit is a globose balausta (fruit which inside is divided into cavities that are separated by a light tissue), 10-15 cm in diameter, with leathery yellow to red skin. The inside is divided into several lobes that contain many seeds covered by an edible juicy pink or red pulp.

    Flowering time: 
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    Uses and properties: 

    One of the most well known uses for the Pomegranate is the consumption of the fruits, be it as a fresh fruit, as a juice or as ingredient for syrups, sorbets, drinks, and sweet and sour dishes. Cuisine from countries such as Libano, Iran or Punjab use the pomegranate in many salty dishes to bring on acidity and get a bittersweet taste. In some areas in Mexico, where the granate is grown, it's used to make Chiles en Nogada (poblano chiles filled with picadillo topped in walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds), one of the symbols of Mexico because of the combination of green, red and white, their flag colours.

    Its richness in anti-oxidant, chemical elements and vitamins confer many therapeutic properties to the pomegranate. It is also used as a natural measure for acidity, since its juice turns pink in an acid solution and green in a basic one.

    The properties of the juice itself (it spoils a fabric forever unless washed with whitener) make a natural dye of it, used in the production of non-synthetic products.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name Punica granatum comes from the Latin terms pūnica, “Punic, from Carthago”, alluding the diffusion of the pomegranate tree cultivation made by the Phoenicians, partly because of religious reasons —the Romans knew the plant thanks to them—, and granatum, “with grains”, in reference to the pomegranate seeds.

    The pomegranate tree has been cultivated in the Mediterranean area and Western Asia, to Armenia, at least since 5,000 years ago and there are references to it in documentation about Babylonian gardens, on the Egyptian bas-relieves and in the Bible.

    The pomegranate has been considered a love, fertility and prosperity symbol by several peoples and in many cultures it symbolises the power because of its crown-shaped open calyx.

    In desert areas, the pomegranate was very appreciated because its thick and leathery peel allowed the caravans to transport it across long ways without affecting the conservation or the properties.

    In many languages the pomegranate name coincides with the grenade, named this way because the grenade shape and size remember those of the pomegranate and its colour remembers the pomegranate tree colour.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996