Punica granatum

Punica granatum

The pomegranate (Punica granatum, L.) is a small or medium-sized tree species belonging to the Punicaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Myrtales Order, Punicaceae Family and therefore to the Punic Gender and to the P. Granatum Species.

Etymology –
The word Punic comes from malum punicum, Carthaginian apple in Pliny (XIII.19: pomegranates grow near Carthage and have taken their name); punicus in turn derives from the Greek φοῖνιξ fóinix, scarlet purple (like the color of the pomegranate flowers) because the Phoenicians, including the Carthaginians, traded this coloring throughout the Mediterranean. The specific epithet granatum derives from grain gránum: which has many grains.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Punica granatum is a species native to south-western Asia. In Asia it is widely cultivated in the Caucasus in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Israel, and in the driest parts of Southeast Asia, from Arabia to Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia; it is also cultivated in the arid regions of tropical Africa.
In the Mediterranean it has been present since ancient times and has been popular both by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans and later by the Arabs. Its introduction into Latin America was due to the Spanish colonizers in 1769. It is currently widely cultivated in Mexico, California and Arizona.

Description –
The pomegranate fruit (pomegranate) is a fleshy berry, called balausta, with thick, complex skin, included in the thallus, with various polispermal cavities separated by membranes. Inside there are many fleshy and juicy seeds, with a prismatic shape, with a pulpy head and a woody tegument. The ripe fruit is yellow-green, with reddish areas that occasionally occupy the entire surface of the fruit. It is a species with high genetic variability for most of the characters, although the differences between some cultivars may be irrelevant.
The pomegranate is classified commercially according to the acidity of its fruit: sour, sour-sweet or sweet.
There are cultivars with hard seeds, so as to make the fruits not edible.
The varieties already present for some time in Italy are: Dente di Cavallo, Neirana, Prophet Partanna, Selinunte, Ragana and Racalmuto, all suitable for fresh consumption. Among the varieties that are more frequently planted today, due to its organoleptic characteristics, we remember the Wonderful which, of American origin, has been selected in Israel. And for some years it has been spreading also in Sicily, in particular in the area of ​​Marsala, Mazara del Vallo (TP) and recently in other provinces.

Cultivation –
The pomegranate, as evidenced by some archaeological remains of seeds and skins in hearths, dates back to several millennia ago in the range from Armenia to Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine and Egypt.
Cultivation does not pose significant difficulties. For the cultivation technique you can consult the present sheet.

Uses and Traditions –
It is said that the plant originated in Persia or the Caucasus where it was cultivated 5,000 years ago. It soon spread throughout the ancient world as a mythical fruit. For the Egyptians, who used pomegranate as a medicine, it was a symbol of fertility. In the Bible it is cited as “good beans”. In the Koran it is one of the rewards for those who reach Paradise.
The Pomegranate represents the food of fertility, of joy, of love brings together sacred love with profane love.
For the Greeks the pomegranate tree was born from the blood of Bacchus “shaken” by the passion towards Venus; with its branches the brides braided their hair to hope for fertility, and the crown-shaped petioles were considered a precious gift and an aphrodisiac thanks to the numerous red grains contained.
In Christian times the pomegranate became the allegory of the Church filled by many faithful, and the Renaissance painters drew the fruit in the hand of the baby Jesus to allude to the “new life” given to humanity.
As a food already in the classical era, the grains were held in high regard also for the therapeutic qualities of refreshing, diuretic and tonic; recent studies have shown that the juice has cardiovascular and astringent benefits.
According to some scholars of Jewish theology, the fruit of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was actually meant as a pomegranate. In the Koran, the pomegranate is mentioned to grow in the garden of paradise (55: 068). It is also mentioned in (6:99, 6: 141) where pomegranates are described among the good things created by God.
We also remember the famous passage by Giosuè Carducci, New Rhymes, Book III, ancient Pianto where he says “… the green pomegranate from” beautiful vermilion flowers “.
The pomegranate is used, in various forms and varieties, both as an ornamental plant in the gardens, especially the dwarf varieties in pots on the terraces and bonsai, or for the intensive production of both fruits and for the production of pomegranate juice.
Punica granatum is also used for other purposes, for the medicinal properties of the bark, roots taken in spring or autumn, and the rind of the fruits harvested in autumn, which are rich in tannin, cut into small pieces and dried in the air. The powder thus obtained, used as a decoction, has tenifugal, astringent, and sedative properties in dysentery; for external use the decoction has astringent properties, for enemas or vaginal irrigations.
Beware, however, preparations based on bark of roots that are extremely dangerous, causing phenomena of idiosyncrasy. From the roots themselves we obtain a dye used in cosmetics. Even the infusion of the petals is used as a refreshing of the gums. From the rind you get a shade of yellow typically used in Arabian tapestries. The edible seeds rich in vitamin C, have mild diuretic properties, are also used for the preparation of syrups and grenadine.

Preparation Mode –
The pomegranate is consumed as fresh fruit or, through various processes, in many different ways, including salads, smoothies, soups, etc. .. From the pomegranate we also get the grenadine, the famous syrup made with condensed fruit juice and added to sugar that is used for making cocktails. In Turkey, pomegranate grains are used to enrich salads and marinate meat. Even in India, the pomegranate is a fruit that enters the kitchen, its dried seeds (Anardana), are in fact used to acidify sauces and curry. In Greece, salads, soups and sauces are often rich in pomegranate, especially the famous vegetable salad with wheat and pomegranate and the aubergine and pomegranate sauce.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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