The pomegranate is a flowering tree that bears fruit. The tree is native to Iran and northern India. Pomegranates are also known by the names "granada" and "Chinese apple." The pomegranate is an ancient tree that dates back to pre-Biblical times. In the Bible (Jeremiah 52: 22-23), bronze pomegranates are said to decorate King Solomon's temple.
The pomegranate tree is a compact shrub in its juvenile state. In a few years, the tree grows up to 16 feet tall. Dwarf varieties of the tree grow to only 4 feet tall. The branches of the pomegranate tree are gray, dense and woody, and often have spiny thorny protrusions. Leaves are small and dark green.
Pomegranate flowers range from deep red to white or bi-colored. Each flower is slightly over 1 inch long, with five to eight crinkled flowers. Pomegranate blossoms are pollinated by self-pollination and cross-pollination with insects. Pollination by insects increases fruit yields.
The pomegranate tree produces round, smooth, glossy fruits that range from white and green to pinkish-red or purple. The fruit is 2 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter. The interior of the fruit consists of groups of sweet, juice-filled sacs separated by walls of white membranes. There is a seed inside each juicy sac.
How to Plant
Pomegranates prefer poor quality, sandy or rock soil. Pomegranate trees thrive in dry conditions, and only require waterings every two to four weeks. Full sunlight is essential, as high temperatures and full light intensify the sweetness and depth of flavor in the fruit.
Pomegranates should be picked before they overmature. If they stay on the tree for too long, pomegranates will crack open on the tree, inviting pests and disease. Harvested pomegranates keep for up to seven months at temperatures of 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Storage actually intensifies the fruit's flavor.