Family Punicaceae - Punica granatum
Punica malus Grenadier. Cortex granati. Ecorce de Granade. Granatwurzelrinde. Melogranato. Malicorio. Scorzo del Melogranati. Cortezade Granada. Anardana, Dadim, Dadima, Fruit of the Dead, Granada, Grenade, Grenadier, Pomme Grenade, Punica granatum, Roma, Shi Liu Gen Pi, Shi Liu Pi.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Origins of the name
The genus name Punica refers to the Phoenicians, who were active in broadening its cultivation, partly for religious reasons. Its etymology is related to that of the gemstone garnet. Via Old French grenat, “garnet” comes from the medieval Latin word granatum. Granatum is an adjective meaning "having deep, red color", perhaps referring to the color of pomegranate arils/sacs.
The word pomegranate is derived from the Latin words “pomum” (apple) and "granatus" (seeded). The city of Granada in Spain was named after the Spanish word for pomegranate, “granada.”
Pomegranates grow wild from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India, and were cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region during ancient times.
Today they are widely cultivated throughout India, the Middle East, drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaysia, East Indies, southern Europe, California and tropical Africa.
There are over 760 varieties of pomegranate, some of which may grow for as long as 200 years in a semi-arid mild-temperate to subtropical climate. They are naturally
adapted to regions with cool winters and hot summers, interestingly a humid climate will adversely affects the formation of fruit.
Historical Background and Traditions
Ancient Egyptians saw the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition and used it for medicinal purposes (eg tapeworm and other infections). Ancient Egyptions were often buried with pomegranates. A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Egypt's Queen Hatshepsut.
In the Qur'an, pomegranates are named as one of the fruits that will grow in the gardens of paradise. It is still used by the Jews in some ceremonials, and as a design has been used in architecture and needlework from the earliest times. It formed part of the decoration of the pillars of King Solomon's Temple, and was embroidered on the hem of the High-Priest's ephod. Pomegranates symbolize the mystical experience in the Jewish kabbalah when one enters the “garden of pomegranates”.
In Hinduism, the pomegranate symbolizes prosperity and fertility. In Greece, pomegranates are used at weddings and celebrations including housewarmings, in order to bring good luck, fertility, and abundance. In Greek mythology, Persephone is condemned to spend every winter in the underworld after the god Hades tricks her into eating pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranates figure in many religious paintings by the likes of Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, often in the hands of the Virgin Mary or the infant Jesus. Pomegranate was the symbol of fertility in ancient Persian culture and the skins were used to stain wool and silk used in Persian carpets.
In the past, ink and medicines were prepared from its roots, bark and seeds. The bark is used in tanning and dyeing giving the yellow hue to Morocco leather.
The Pomegranate is a small thorny fruit tree or shrub of 2-8 meters with decorative flowers grown for its edible fruit as well as for extracting its juice. The trunk is covered by a red-brown bark which later becomes gray. The branches are stiff, angular and often spiny. For much of the year, the tree fades into the drab dry landscape. Its small leaves prevent moisture loss and discourage grazing. In the spring, the tree explodes with fragrant crimson flowers which later turn into sweet red seed bearing fruits.
The pomegranate has small, glossy, leathery leaves that are wrinkled, narrow and lance-shape. The buds and young shoots are red and turn green as they age. The tree is deciduous and typically the leaves turn yellow before they fall to the ground.
Crimson flowers appear in Spring with 5 to 8 crumpled petals and a red, fleshy, tubular calyx. The flowers do not have any nectar but are rich in pollen and may be solitary or grouped in twos and threes at the ends of the branches. The pomegranate i s self- pollinated as well as cross-pollinated by pollen seeking insects.
The nearly round, 8-18cm fruit has a crown shaped calyx at the base. The tough, leathery rind is typically yellow overlaid with light or deep pink or rich red. The interior is separated by membranous walls and white, spongy, bitter tissue into compartments packed with sacs filled with sweetly acid, juicy, red sacs or arils. In each sac there is one angular, soft or hard seed which can be eaten if desired. High temperatures are essential during the fruiting period to get the best flavor. The seeds are dispersed by birds that eat the seed pulp and excrete the hard part. The exact number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1400 seeds, contrary to some beliefs that all pomegranates have exactly the same number of seeds
Pomegranate harvest season is from late September to February in the Northern Hemisphere when each tree can yield as much as a half-ton of crimson fruits. The fruits are ripe when they have developed a distinctive color and make a metallic sound when tapped. The fruits must be picked before they overripen as they have a tendency to crack open during rain showers. The pomegranate stores well and the flavours and juiciness improves with storage. The fruit can be eaten out of hand by deeply scoring several times vertically and then breaking it apart. The clusters of red juice sacs are then lifted out and eaten. The sacs also make an attractive garnish when sprinkled on various dishes, be they savoury or sweet. The juice can be drunk fresh or used in baking, cooking or wine making. Commercial pomegranate syrup is sold as grenadine which makes a delicious cooling beverage in the summer or when one has a fever.
TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL USES
The seeds are demulcent. The fruit is a mild astringent and refrigerant in some fevers, and especially in biliousness, and the bark is used to remove tapeworm.
In Ayurvedic medicine the fruit rind and the tree’s bark are prescribed for Diarrhoea, dysentery and intestinal parasites; the seeds and juice used as a heart tonic,while the juice, rind and tree bark act as astringents to stop bleeding.
Gerard’s perception of pomegranate was that it was an astringing and cooling drug. He recommends it for loose tissue in need of a little tightening, as in the case of tonsillitis or bad gums. The root-bark was recommended as a vermifuge by Celsus, Dioscorides and Pliny.
The peel can be dried then ground to make a gargle for tonsillitis or gum disease.
Pomegranate’s anti oxidant properties are not only beneficial to our health when we eat the fruit or drink the juice, but also when used in topical skin care.
Pomegranate contains fatty acids called conjugated fatty acides (of which the rare Punicic acid) with alternating single and double bonds are the major component (70%). This chemical structure shares featrues with beta-carotene, a well known antioxidant. The oil also contains important phytosterols including beta -sitosterol, campesterol and stifmasterol.
Studies have been carried out to evaluate the oxidative stability of the oil. Adding pomegranate to other oils has revealed that it has the ability to lower the pre-oxidation of other oils at a low inclusion rate. It will scavenge free-radicals as they come in contact with the oil, making pomegranate a valuable ingredients in anti-aging formulations.
Pomegranate is also high in lipids which help heal inflammation and reduce swelling and muscular aches and pains. The juice is rich in vitamin C, B , Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
Pomegranate oil is beneficial to most types of skin. It has been found to nourish and moisturize the skin in the two important layers of the epidermis and the dermis, improving elasticity, reducing wrinkles and preventing aging. It has also been shown to help sunburned and ultraviolet damaged skin.
Evidence suggests that its calming and healing properties may aid treatment of numerous skin problems, including dry, irritated sensitive skin, and perhaps even eczema and psoriasis.
The oil is sticky and thick with a slight salty odour when used neat and should be used diluted at a ratio of 5- 10% with other carrier oils depending on skin type. It should be stored in a cool and dark place and used within 12 months of purchase.
You will know when your blend contains pomegranate oil. It leaves the skin with a velvety feel as if it had ridden it of all blemishes and unwanted imperfections.
As pomegranate seems to decrease blood pressure, take care when taking alongside danshen, ginger, Panax ginseng, turmeric, valerian, and others.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
Suitable on skin that is dry, irritated or sensitive, wrinkled, sunburned or damaged. Improves skin elasticity, and may help with eczema.
TO TRY AT HOME
The following examples can be easily made by blending the following oils
For Eczema / red / itchy skin - in a 50 ml bottle
- 20 ml calendula
- 10 ml jojoba
- 5 ml borage
- 7 ml rosehip
- 2 ml pomegranate
- 1ml seabuckthone
- 10 drops german chamomile
- 5 drops helichrysum
For Sunburn - in a 50 ml bottle
- 20 ml sesame
- 10 ml avocado
- 13 ml jojoba
- 5 ml calendula
- 2 ml pomegranate
Add 8 drops frankincense, 5 drops bergamot, 4 drops neroli for a delicious fragrance
AVAILABLE FROM MATERIA AROMATICA
For those who do not wish to experiment at home, Materia Aromatica has designed specific blends with pomegranate as a key ingredients. Please refer to the following
Tissue repair oil
- 100% certified organic ingredients
- Fragrance free
- Rosa canina (rosehip(, borago officinalis (borage), argana spinosa (argan), camelia sinensis (camelia), punica granatum (pomegranate), hippophae rhamnoides (sea-buckthorne)
- The blend combines 6 oils packed with anit-oxidants and most suited to encourage tissue repair and cell regeneration; Argan has amazing softening and nutritive qualities. It is a free-radical scavenger and is rich in Vitamin E. It combines well with Rosehip which contributes to reducing scarring and discolouration. Pomegranage and sea buckthorne work at a deep level to rejuvenate damaged tissue and improve skin elasticity; Borage, with a high GLA content, will contribute to re-hydrate and regenerate the tissues.
- To use locally over scar tissue, deep wrinkles or damaged skin. 0.5% to 1% of helichrysum essential oil can also be added if desired. Do not apply over open scars but wait until the tissues have healed.
- The blend can also be used to help prevent stretch marks. Use twice a day after a bath or shower or whenever it is needed when the skin gets taut and itchy.
- It would also be useful after the birth to help the tissues return to their normal shape.
- Free from nut oils. Suitable for vegans - product and single ingredients have not been tested on animals
Body oil - Mature Skin
- 100% certified organic ingredients
- Fragrance free
- Macadamia alternifolia (macadamia), rosa canina (rosehip), Oenothera biennis (evening primrose), camelia sinensis (camelia), argana spinosa (argan), punica granatum (pomegranate)
- A combination of specialists oils to nurture mature skin, improve fine lines, skin elasticity and tone.
- Apply a small amount or as needed on the skin and massage well into the tissues until the oil has gone in. It is a light blend which will penetrate the skin easily.
- Suitable for vegans - product or single ingredients have not been tested on animals
The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts. CABI