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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fabled Pomegranates: flowers attract hummingbirds

It is a low water, manageable, graceful plant. Good for you, fire safe, drought resistant and might even make your fortune. (See Resnick at LACMA below)
I’m probably preaching to the choir on this one, as most of us have had it drummed into our heads that pomegranate juice is really, really, really good for you.

 (The FDA is not so sure it’s that good for you.)

However, there is no doubt that it’s just the tree for our Central Coast gardens. If you didn’t do anything but grow it as an ornamental tree it would be worth it.
 There's one purely ornamental Dwarf Pomegranate, ) Punica granatum nana:

And three edible varieties of Punica granatum --- Wonderful, Eversweet and Angel Red. The first picture is of Wonderful, the second of Angel Red (both photos are from Monrovia Nursery 

Having grown Wonderful, I can say—it is. Eversweet sounds ---well, sweet.   Angel Red is a new hybrid created by a young man who died at 23. It’s also a beautiful, early bearing tree.

The classic 16th c.  Italian Garden had to have a pomegranate tree—it’s in the directions! Italian gardeners may have forgotten why they had to have one, but the pomegranates’ roots reach deep into antiquity.

Pomegranates have been found in Egyptian tombs, at Jericho, and Babylon, grown in groves in India, Iran, and Transcaucasia dating back to 1000 BC. (W)

The scientific name Punica granatum is something of mishmash.  But interesting—one source translates it as “the apple of carthage” which ties it back to the Phoenicians, who were the earliest traders in the Mediterranean, and could have spread it around the whole ancient world.

Or could it be the “apple” that Adam and Eve found irresistible, or the apple that Paris awarded to Venus (see Trojan War) for her gift of the most beautiful woman in the world –Helen?

Venus persuading Helen 

Cranach The Judgement of Paris

Another source says it means “seeded apple” and avers it came over the Silk Road.

 Probably our treasure,  travelled both routes. The fruit has a long association with tombs (Egypt) and the Greeks had their Persephone with her 3 seeds (see The Greek Myths) :

Rossetti's Persephone


recently, the pomegranate gets credit for another contribution to art.  LACMA has a whole new gallery--- the Resnick Gallery of Roccoco  and 18th c. art--- thanks to POM© the juice. The collection contains this wonderful portrait of Marie Antoinette 

Marie Antoinette by Le Brun
who should be holding a pomegranate, not a rose. Like Persephone the poor woman was destined for a nasty and premature  trip to the Underworld.

But we will end on a better note with a recipe for a Persian  Pomegranate Lentil Soup 

collected  by Peggy Trowbridge Filipone  which contains pomegranate juice,rice,lentils,herbs and raisins. See

Pomegranate and Lentil Soup

Note: Monrovia Nursery grows Wonderful and Angel Red, Armstrong Nurseries grows Eversweet. 

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