Pomegranate

Description

Pomegranate, Punica granatum, is a deciduous or evergreen tree or shrub in the family Punicaceae grown for its edible fruits. The pomegranate tree is branched and spiny with glossy, leathery, oval to oblong leaves that grow in whorls of five or more on the branches. The tree produces bright red flowers singly at the tips of the branches and a rounded hexagonal fruit with a thick pink-red skin. The fruit has a thick, leathery rind which protects the pulp[ and seeds inside. The inside of the fruit is separated into compartments by white spongy tissue. Each compartment contains seeds and pulp. Each pomegranate fruit may contain as many as 600 seeds. Pomegranate trees can reach a height of 10 m (33 ft) and can be very long lived, although their economic lifespan is usually between 12 and 15 years. Pomegranate may also be referred to as grenadine or Chinese apple and originated from Central Asia, likely in Iran.


Uses

Pomegranate is primarily eaten as a fresh fruit by splitting open the rind and consuming the seeds. The seeds may be used in salads. The fruit may also be used to produce juice, either by removing and pressing the seeds or by pressing the whole fruit.


Propagation

Pomegranates grow best in temperate or semi-arid climates with a cool winter and warm summer. The tree will be severely damages if temperatures drop below -10°C (14°f). Pomegranate trees will grow on a range of soil types, including calcareous soils and acidic loam but will grow optimally in well-draining soils. Trees can be propagated from seed or from cuttings. The flowers can be self or cross pollinated and the tree has no chilling requirement. Pomegranate trees should be planted 3.5–5.5 m (11.5–18 ft) apart.


Common Pests and Diseases

Cercospora fruit spot Cercospora punicae

Symptoms
Light brown spots on leaves and fruit which enlarge and coalesce to form large black patches on fruit; black elliptical spots appear on twigs and become flattened and depressed with a raised margin; infected twigs dry out and die; infection may cause plant death
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence is favored by rainfall and water saturated soil
Management
Diseased fruits should be removed and destroyed; infected twigs and branches should be pruned out; applications of appropriate fungicides can help to control the disease

Heart rot (Black heart) Alternaria spp.

Symptoms
Interior of fruit rotting with no external symptoms; infected fruits are usually lighter in weight than healthy fruits and may be paler in color
Cause
Fungi
Comments
May be linked to moisture levels at time of flowering
Management
No known method of control