The bountiful pomegranate tree is native to the Mediterranean region which has similar growing conditions as the Arizona Sonoran Desert. Pomegranates thrive in the drier climates of California and Arizona. As a matter of fact, in 2009 the first commercial pomegranate farm started in Arizona. This fruit tree seems satisfied with our alkaline soil and experiences no deficiencies!
Although the pomegranate originated in Iran, ancient records show it is one of the oldest known cultivated fruits. Biblical Archaeologists discovered fruit such as the pomegranate, was much more than a food; it had symbolic significance for the Ancient Israelites. The antiquated Greeks believed pomegranate juice was the “symbol of love”. The botanical name for pomegranate is Punica granatum belonging to the family Lythraceae. P. granatum has more than 500 cultivars. In 1769, the pomegranate was introduced into California by Spanish Settlers.
In the sizzling, sunniest area of our yard we now have five pomegranate trees, shrubs ranging from six months to six years old. “Wonderful” is our cultivar and is also the most common cultivar for Arizona. Recently, we had record temperatures of 113 degrees F; with higher temps forecasted for next week. There was some vexing over the younger plants, but it proved to be unnecessary. We are delighted to report our Punica granatum flourished in the extreme desert heat!
The adamant pomegranate is drought tolerant and does best with well-drained soil, semi-arid climates and plant hardiness zones 8 to 10. The fruit is adversely affected in wetter climates along with the plant becoming prone to root decay. Tolerant to frost down to 20 degrees F. Easy to grow, this deciduous tree can mature to 30 feet; but it is more common to see pomegranates at 12 – 15 feet.
The leaves of Punica granatum are glossy, narrow, lance-shaped and deer resistant. The lavish flowers are bright orange-red with a fleshy tubular calyx. Some cultivars are grown for their flowers alone and used as ornamental trees.
Pomegranate fruit is a berry filled with seeds numbering 200 to 1,400. The seeds are in a white, spongy, acidic membrane. The outer skin is a tough , leathery texture.
The fruit is ripe when it reaches its distinctive color and it makes a metallic sound when tapped. Overripe fruit will begin to crack and the seeds will become harder.
The easiest way to eat a p. granatum is to use a bowl of water to separate the seeds. The seeds sink and the white membrane floats.
Slice the fruit in half and then hold it upside down and beat gently with a wooden spoon so the seeds drop down in the water.
Another reason Pomegranates ranked #1 on our list:
- This fruit has potent anti-inflammatory properties! Numerous pomegranate studies have been achieved and the evidence shows its wide range health benefits. Our next article will contain information on those studies and one of the most healthiest fruits on earth, “THE POMEGRANATE” !!