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   Punica protopunica and Punica granatum are the only species in this genus. The name Pomegranate derives from Latin pomum (apple) and granatus (grainy). The genus name Punica is named after the Phoenicians.
   Pomegranate is a species of fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5-8 m tall. Socotra Pomegranate (Punica protopunica), is endemic on the island of Socotra. It has pink flowers, small tart fruit. Though the ancients used pomegranate skin and bark for medicinal purposes, only the seeds are edible.
Pomegranate tree - Punica granatum Linnaeus (1753.)
   Punica granatum has bright red flowers and sweet fruit ranging in size from 7-12 cm. The shape of the fruit is a rounded hexagonal shape, and has thick reddish skin and many seeds. The edible parts are the seeds and the brilliant red seed pulp surrounding them.
   Pomegranates are drought tolerant, and can be grown in dry areas. The Iranian cities of Kashan, Saveh and Yazd are known to cultivate the best kinds of pomegranate in the world. The fruit is in season from September to November in the Northern Hemisphere, or March to May in the Southern Hemisphere.
   The Spanish Conquistadores brought the pomegranate to America. Jesuit missionaries carried it north to their missions in California. They were found growing wild in Georgia in 1772.
   To grow your own plant let seeds dry out for a few days, then place them in potting soil and keep warm and moist. Place the pot in a sunny window. The seeds take about two months to germinate so be patient. Place the pot in a plastic bag and tie it closed like a little greenhouse to help keep the soil damp. Never mist the plant. This will grow into an attractive, compact shrub which may eventually produce edible fruit.
   The best way to eat the fruit is by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open. The fruit is separated from the skin and internal white supporting structures. An easy way to separate the red arils is by separating them in a bowl of water, the arils will sink and the white structures will float to the top.

   The uses for pomegranate are numerous, especially in the Middle East. Pomegranate juice is a popular drink. Thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice is called grenadine syrup which is used in cocktail mixing. The juice can also be used as an antiseptic when applied to cuts.
   Pomegranate seeds are sometimes used as a spice, known as anardana. Dried seeds are used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry production. The seeds of the wild pomegranate daru from the Himalayas are considered the highest quality source for this spice.
   In Turkey pomegranate juice is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads, in Muhammara (Turkish Walnut Garlic Spread) and in Güllaç, a famous Turkish desert.
   In Greece it is used in many recipes; such as "kollivozoumi", a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins; legume salad with wheat and pomegranate; pomegranate glaze; pomegranate eggplant relish; avocado and pomegranate dip; fruit confectionery that can be used as ice spread or jam.

Fun facts about the pomegranates
   Indian royalty began their banquets with pomegranate, grape and jujube. As befits a fruit with many seeds, the pomegranate is the traditional representation of fertility, and seems to have its origins everywhere.
   The Ancient Egyptians were buried with pomegranates.
   The Babylonians believed chewing the seeds before battle made them invincible.
   The Quar’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 has a calyx shaped like a crown. In Jewish tradition it has been seen as the original "design" for the proper crown.
   Pomegranate juice stains clothing permanently unless washed with bleach. So as you eat the juicy seeds do not get the juice on your clothing. 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.
   Although not native to Japan, the pomegranate is widely grown there and many cultivars have been developed. It is widely used for bonsai, because of its lovely flowers and for the unusual twisted bark that older specimens can attain.
   Grenada, an island nation off the coast of South America, was named after the Spanish and French word for ‘pomegranate’.
   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 to the gemstone garnet from its color. In many languages (including Bulgarian, Spanish, French, and Hebrew) the words are exactly the same.
  Pomegranate was the personal emblem of the Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. On important days in the Greek Orthodox faith, such as the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and on Christmas Day, it is tradition to have at the dinner table "polysporia".
   It is also tradition in Greece to break a pomegranate on the ground at weddings, on New Years and when one buys a new home for a house guest to bring as a first gift a pomegranate which is placed under/near the ikonostase, (home altar), of the house, as it is a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck.
   Pomegranate decorations for the home are very common in Greece.
   The pomegranate provides a substantial amount of potassium, is high in fiber, and contains vitamin C and niacin.
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