The pomegranate Punica granatum is a species of fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5-8 m tall. Although it was previously given its own family Punicaceae, recent genetic evidence shows that it is a member of the family Lythraceae. The pomegranate is believed to have originated in the area from Iran east to northern India, but has been cultivated around the Mediterranean for so long (several millennia) that its true native range is not accurately known. 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 'granular'. The city of Granada in Spain became an early centre of cultivation, and was named after the fruit.



 
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The leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3-7 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red, 3 cm diameter, with five petals (often more on cultivated plants). The fruit is between an orange and a grapefruit in size, 7-12 cm diameter, has a thick reddish skin and many seeds. The edible part is the brilliant red seed pulp surrounding the seeds. The only other species in the genus, Socotra Pomegranate Punica protopunica, is endemic on the island of Socotra. It differs in having pink (not red) flowers and smaller, less sweet fruit. Pomegranates are drought tolerant, and can be grown in dry areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall climates. In wetter areas, they are prone to root decay from fungal diseases. They are tolerant of moderate frost, down to about -10°C.

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