Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Pomegranate

When you say pomegranate (Punica granatum), everyone generally thinks of the fruit rather than the flower, but the flowers are quite handsome and right on the edge of being large (over 2.5 cm diameter bloom) to a floral biologist. The flower displays a number of features we generally associate with Rosids. Pomegranate is an unusual fruit because we actually discard the fruit and consume the fleshy arils surrounding its seeds, although the dried seeds themselves are used as a spice (anardana). As an ancient domesticate of the Middle East pomegranate has been around long enough to have left its mark on our cultures. Long a symbol of fertility because of its many seeds, brides threw the fruit upon the ground to devine the number of children they would have based upon the seeds that spilled out. And this gave rise to the name of that fragmentary munition, the grenade, just as the fruit lent its name to a Spanish city (Granada) and a red syrup (grenadine). It is even one candidate for being the Biblical tree of knowledge.


Pat said...

I can't help noticing that you are not mentioning the family. Lythraceae seems logical to me as I have always thought of it as the "crumpled petal family".

The Phytophactor said...

Althought pomegranate used to be placed in its own family (Punicaceae), it is presently as Pat says in the Lythraceae, which does make sense of the crumpled petals.