ABOUT POMEGRANATE: Punica granatum


Relatives: Coco and Natal Plums, Mammee Apple, Mamey Sapote


The pomegranate is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub that grows to a mature height between 16 to 35 feet. The name pomegranate derives from Medieval Latin pōmum "apple" and grānātum "seeded". Possibly stemming from the old French word for the fruit, pomme-grenade, the pomegranate was known in early English as "apple of Grenada" — a term which today survives only in heraldic blazons. The pomegranate is believed to have originated in the region extending from Iran to northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. According to the Ebers Papyrus (one of the oldest medical writings from around 1500 BC), the Egyptians used the pomegranate for treatment of tapeworm and other infections. There are currently over 500 named cultivars throughout the world, although undoubtedly several overlap.

Leaves: Opposite or subopposite (meaning not completely opposite), glossy, narrow, oblong, entire, 1 ¼ to 2 ¾ inches long and about 3⁄4 inches broad.

Flowers: The flowers are spectacularly bright red to red orange and are about 1 ¼ inches in diameter, with three to seven petals. Some fruitless varieties are grown for the flowers alone.

Fruit: Red – purple in color, the pomegranate fruit husk has two parts: an outer, hard pericarp, and an inner, spongy mesocarp (white "albedo"), which comprises the fruit’s inner wall where the seeds attach. Membranes of the mesocarp are organized as nonsymmetrical chambers that contain seeds inside sarcotestas, which are embedded without attachment to the mesocarp. Containing juice, the sarcotesta is formed as a thin membrane derived from the epidermal cells of the seeds. The number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to almost 1,400! Botanically, the edible fruit is a berry with seeds and pulp produced from the ovary of a single flower. The fruit is intermediate in size between a lemon and a grapefruit, 2 – 4 ½ inches in diameter with a rounded shape and thick, reddish husk.


Location: Full sun, the more the better.

Temperature: Pomegranates are extremely heat tolerant, and perform best when temperatures are above 85 degrees F for at least 3 to 4 months a year and the Russian Pomegranates are cold hard down to about 25 degrees F.

Chilling: 100 – 200 hours

Soil/water/nutrients:  Don’t fertilize pomegranates during their first year when you initially plant the tree. Mulch with rotted manure and other compost instead. In their second year, apply 2 ounces of nitrogen per plant in the spring. For each successive year, increase the feeding by an additional ounce. By the time the tree is five years old, 6 - 8 ounces of nitrogen should be applied to each tree in late winter prior to leaf emergence.

Pomegranate trees need adequate water, especially during the first few years as they establish. Even established trees need additional irrigation during dry spells to improve growth not to mention fruit set, yield, and fruit size.

Pruning: There remains many offerings of advice on pruning, primarily as to whether you desire a tree or a shrub. Agreement is generally the same in that no pruning should be done for the first two to three years and thereafter only while it is dormant in winter.  And as with a lot of fruit pruning, remember that as the tree/shrub matures, pruning to allow for maximum sunlight to reach into the center will help both the quantity and quality of your fruits.

Pests and diseases: Fruit flies and ants are attracted to unharvested ripe fruit.