The genus name, Punica is named after the
Phoenicians, who were active in spreading
its cultivation, partly for religious
reasons. Its species name granatum derives
from the Latin adjective granatus, meaning
'grainy' (because of the fruit's
seeds/grana: the weapon grenade later has
derived its name from the fruit). However,
in classical Latin the species name was
malum punicum or malum granatum, where
"malum" is an apple. This has influenced the
common name for pomegranate in many
languages (eg German Granatapfel, seeded
apple). Even "pomegranate" itself has this
meaning; pomum is Latin for apple.
Another widespread root for "pomegranate" is
the Egyptian and Semitic rmn. Attested in
Ancient Egyptian, in Hebrew rimmôn, and in
Arabic rummân, this root was brought by
Arabic to a number of languages, including
Portuguese (romã) , and Kabyle rrumman.
The Pomegranate has been cultivated around
the Mediterranean region for several
millennia. In Georgia, to the east of the
Black Sea, there are wild pomegranate groves
outside of ancient abandoned settlements.
The ancient city of Granada in Spain was
renamed after the fruit during the Moorish
period. It is also extensively grown in
South China and in Southeast Asia, and could
have been brought by sea traders, assuming
the pomegranate was not native to the
Pacific coast. Missionaries from Spain are
also said to be the source for the
pomegranate's introduction into the
Caribbean and Latin America during the
The arils (seed casings) of the pomegranate
are consumed raw. The entire seed is eaten,
though the fleshy outer portion of the seed
is the part that is desired. The taste
differs depending on the variety of
pomegranate and its state of ripeness. It
can be very sweet or it can be very sour or
tangy, but most fruits lie somewhere in
between, which is the characteristic taste.
Pomegranate juice is a popular drink in the
Middle East, and is also used in Iranian and
Indian cuisine; it began to be widely
marketed in the US in 2004. Pomegranate
concentrate is used in Syrian cuisine.
Grenadine syrup is thickened and sweetened
pomegranate juice; it is used in cocktail
mixing. Before the tomato arrived to the
Middle East, grenadine was widely used in
many Persian foods; it can still be found in
traditional recipes. The juice can also be
used as an antiseptic when applied to cuts.
Pomegranate seeds are sometimes used as a
spice, most notably in Indian and Pakistani
cuisine, as a result of which the dried
whole seeds can often be obtained in markets
catering to such.
One pomegranate delivers 40% of an adult's
daily vitamin C requirement. It is also a
rich source of folic acid and of
Pomegranates are high in polyphenols. The
most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate are
hydrolysable tannins, particularly
punicalagins, which have been shown in many
peer-reviewed research publications to be
the superior antioxidant responsible for the
free-radical scavenging ability of
Many food and dietary supplement makers have
found the advantages of using pomegranate
extracts (which have no sugar, calories, or
additives), instead of the juice, as healthy
ingredients in their products. As far as
pomegranate extracts go, however, it may be
advisable to stick with ingredients
standardized to native constituents, as
these are absorbed into the body, and have
benefits backed by clinical research.
Many pomegranate extracts are essentially
ellagic acid, which is largely a by-product
of the juice extraction process, and is not
absorbed into the body. Other pomegranate
extracts are described as 'punicosides', a
new term invented by a clever marketing team
and not found in any peer-reviewed journals.
It may be advisable to look for finished
products which have pomegranate ingredients
that are backed by their own clinical
science, standardized to punicalagins, and
are of reputable quality.
The juice of the pomegranate has been tested
in several human clinicals as effective in
reducing several heart risk factors,
including LDL oxidation, macrophage
oxidative status, and foam cell formation,
all of which are steps in atherosclerosis
and heart disease. Tannins have been
identified as the primary components
responsible for the reduction of oxidative
states which lead to these risk factors.
Pomegranate juice has recently been tested
for its efficacy against prostate cancer.
Pomegranates and symbolism
Judaism and the Bible
Exodus chapter 28:33-34 directed that images
of pomegranates be woven onto the borders of
Hebrew priestly robes. 1 Kings chapter
7:13-22 describes pomegrantes depicted in
the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem.
Jewish tradition teaches that the
pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness,
because it is said to have 613 seeds which
corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or
commandments of the Torah. For this reason
and others many Jews eat pomegranates on
Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot.
Ancient Egyptians were buried with
pomegranates. The Babylonians believed
chewing the seeds before battle made them
Qur'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
Pomegranate juice stains clothing
permanently unless washed with bleach.
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
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.
an island nation off the coast of South
America, was named after the Spanish and
French word for 'pomegranate'.
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 garnet
from its color. In many language
(Spanish, French, and Hebrew, to name a
few), the words are exactly the same.