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Deriration. According to the “Nouveau Du Hamel," Punica is said to be derived either from puniceus, scarlet, in allu. sion to the colour of the flowers; or from the same word, or punicus, both signifying" of Carthage;" near which cily, Pliny tells us, it was first found.
Generic Characters. Calyx with its tube top-shaped; its limb with 5—7 lobes; their æstivation valvate.
Petals 5—7. Stamens numerous, with distinct filaments, which bear the anthers on their inner side. Style 1. Stigma 1. Fruit spherical, crowned with the upper part of the calyx, the lower part of which, forms the rind. The fruit does not open, but is divided into two parts by a horizontal diaphragm. The upper portion consists of 5—9 cells; the lower one is smaller, and consists of 3 cells only. In both, the cells are separated by membraneous partitions; in the upper ones, fleshy placentæ extend from the sides of the fruit to the centre, and in the lower, irregular processes arise from the bottom. Seeds very numerous, surrounded by a transparent, shining pulp. Embryo oblong; its radicle short and straight; its cotyledons leafy, and spirally convolute. Leaves deciduous, opposite, more rarely whorled or alternate ; in many instances in groups in the axils ; oblong and entire. Flowers scarlet, 2—5 together, almost sessile, and almost terminal upon the branchlets.- De Candolle, Prodromus.
HE genus Punica was separated from the order Myrtaceæ by Pro
fessor Don, in 1826. It consists of small trees or shrubs, with branchlets imperfectly square, and becoming spiny with age. There are several species described by botanists, but we have regarded them only as varieties of the same tree.
Nearly allied to the natural family to which this genus belongs, is the order Calycanthaceæ, including two genera, Calycanthus and Chimonanthus. “In the stems of all the plants belonging to this order, there is the usual deposit of concentric circles of wood around the pith, and, in addition, four very imperfect centres of deposition on the outside next the bark; a most singular structure, which may be called, without much inaccuracy, an instance of exogenous and endogenous growth combined in the same individual."* The species belonging to these genera, most worthy of note, are the Carolina allspice, (Calycanthus floridus,) American allspice, (Calycanthus lævigatus,) and the fragrant-flowered chimonanthus, (Chimonanthus fragrans,) the latter of which is a native of Japan.
* Lindley's Introduction to the Natural System of Botany, p. 160.
Derivations. The specific name granalum, is derived from the Latin granum, a grain; on account of the numerous grains of Beeds in its fruit. Most of the European names are derived from the botanical one.
Engravings. Sims, Botanical Magazine, pl. 1832; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii. fig. 664; Encyclopædia of Plants, fig. 7019; and the figures below.
Specific Characters. Stem arboreous. Leaf lanceolate.—De Candolle, Prodromus.
"Let us get up early to the vineyards;
Let us see if the vine flourish,
SONG OF SOLomon, vii. 12.
HE Punica granatum is a tree, in
the common hawthorn. In a wild state, it forms a thorny bush; but when cultivated in gardens and in plantations, under favourable circumstances, it often attains a height of fifteen or twenty feet. The leaves, which are of a beautiful green, stand opposite, and are about three inches long, and from half an inch to an inch broad in the middle. The flowers, which are somewhat in the shape of a bell, and of a brightscarlet colour, come out at the ends of the branches, sometimes occurring in clusters of three or four, and the times of their blooming are so irregular, that the succession is often continued for months. Their petals are handsome, very thick and fleshy, and their odour is as fragrant as their colour is bright. The fruit, which is very beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the taste, is nearly round, encircled at the end opposite the stem, with something resembling a crown, and is covered with a thick, hard rind, that is easily broken. When fully grown, it is about as big as a large-sized orange, sometimes weighing a pound, and when perfectly ripe, varies in the colour of its rind, from brightyellow or green, to a dark-red, and is often blended with all of these tints.
Varieties. The varieties recognized under this species are as follows :1. P. G. RUBRUM, Loudon. Red-flowered Pomegranate-tree; Grenadier des bois, of the French, known by the reddish tinge of the pulp of the fruit, and as growing wild in Mauritania, and in the south of Europe.
2. P. G. RUBRUM FLORE PLENO, Loudon. Double-flowering Red-flowered Pomegranate-tree, distinguished by its red double flowers, and reddish pulp.
3. P. G. Albescens, Loudon. White-petalled Pomegranate-tree, known by the white petals, and slightly yellowish calyx of its flowers, and by the pale-red tinge of the pulp of its fruit.
4. P. G. ALBESCENS FLORE PLENO, Loudon. Double-flowering white-petalled Pomegranate-tree, distinguished by its double flowers, which are nearly white.
5. P. G. FLAVUM, Loudon. Yellow-flowered Pomegranate-tree, has the flowers yellow, but very rare in gardens.
6. P. G. NANA, Loudon. Dwarf Pomegranate-tree; Grenadier nain, of the French. This variety, which is usually treated as a species, is a native of the Caribbee Islands, and of South America, in the neighbourhood of Demerara. It may be distinguished by its shrubby stem, linear leaves, red flowers, and dwarfy habit, usually not exceeding five or six feet in height.
Geography and History. The Punica granatum is indigenous to Barbary, Persia, Japan, and various parts of Asia; and has long been naturalized in the south of Europe, the West Indies, Mexico, and in South America. In the Himalayas, Mr. Royle informs us that the pomegranate grows wild; and, also, that it is planted near villages. It forms quite a wood in Mazanderan, whence the dried seeds are exported for medical use. The famous seedless pomegranates are grown in the rich gardens lying under the snowy bills near the river Caubul. They are also described as delicious about Hadgiabad, and throughout Persia. “Though grown in most parts of India,” says Mr. Royle, “large quantities, of superior quality, are yearly brought down by the northern merchants from Caubul, Cashmere, and Boodurwar."
The pomegranate-tree, which partakes of the antiquity of the vine, the fig, and the olive,—and which, in point of utility, is numbered with the grain-bearing plants, and with honey, all constituting the principal food of the eastern nations, in the early stages of civilization,-must possess no small degree of historical interest. It is mentioned by Theophrastus under the name of roa; the Phænicians called it sida; the Greeks, cytinos ; and the Romans, according to Pliny, malus punica. The Jews appear to have held the tree in great veneration, and still employ the fruit in their ceremonials. It is mentioned, in the Old Testament, as one of the fruits discovered in the “Promised Land,”.
and, while the Israelites sojourned in the wilderness, it was selected as one of the ornaments to the robe of the ephod. The two large pillars of brass, made by Hiram for the porch of Solomon's Temple, were ornamented with carvings of the pomegranate. In the Canticles, Solomon speaks of "an orchard of poinegranates, with pleasant fruits;' and, from other passages of Holy Writ, a wine appears to have been made from this fruit. In the ancient island Eubea, now Negropont, there was a statue of Juno, holding in one hand a sceptre, and in the other a pomegranate. Pliny speaks of extracting a colour from the flowers for dyeing cloth a light-red. He mentions nine varieties; including the sweet, the sour, the temperate, the austere, and the wine-flavoured. The rind of the sour kind, he says, is the best for tanners and curriers to dress their leather with. The celebrated kingdom of Granada is supposed to have derived its name from the trees planted in it by the Moors; which is rendered highly probable, by the arms of their capital being a split pomegranate.
The earliest mention of the pomegranate in Britain, is in Turner's "Herbal,”! in 1548; but it was probably introduced long before that time by the monks, and planted in the gardens of the religious houses. For a long period, it was kept exclusively in houses, along with orange-trees, and we find, accordingly, that it fruited in the orangery of Charles I., as Parkinson informs us, under the care of Tradescant, when he was that king's gardener. At present, it is found in most collections as an ornamental wall tree, and, in fine seasons, in the neighbourhood of London, frequently ripens its fruit, or at least, produces it of the full size; but the varieties most generally cultivated, are those with double flowers. The largest tree of this species, in England, is supposed to be that trained against the walls of Fulham Palace, which is said to be forty feet in height and fifty feet broad.
In the south of Europe, the pomegranate is cultivated for its fruit; and, in some places, as a hedge plant. It is also grown as an ornamental tree, the stem being trained to a height of six or eight feet, and the head afterwards allowed to spread, and droop down on every side. In the orange nurseries about Nice and Genoa, young trees are grown in boxes, in which they are exported to various parts of the world. In the conservatories in the neighbourhood of Paris, and in France generally, the double-flowered varieties are planted in large boxes, and treated like the orange-tree; but, at Paris and Versailles, they will not bear exposure to the open air too early in the spring, although they may be removed from the house eight or ten days before the orange. At the two last-named cities, there are specimens of the pomegranate, which are known, with certainty, to have existed nearly two hundred and fifty years. Both the single and doubleflowered varieties are very frequently trained against walls, in Italy, as well as in France; and the more ingenious cultivators intermingle the branches of one sort with those of the other, so as to make a display of both double flowers and fruit, apparently on the same tree.
The discovery and settlement of the Spanish colonies of the West Indies and of South America, led to the early introduction of this tree into all the warmer parts of those countries, where it is much cultivated for ornament in gardens, and along the avenues of plantations, and where it is greatly admired, both for its flowers and its fruit. In the southern states of North America, too, it is frequently to be met with in gardens, and about houses and plantations, and is much esteemed as an ornamental tree. It is also cultivated as a wall tree, or as a conservatory plant, in various parts of the middle and northern states of the union, where it is highly prized.
Poetical, Mythological, and Legendary Allusions. The pomegranate is mentioned by the poets of all ages. Ovid tells us that when Ceres discovered that Pluto had stolen her daughter Proserpine, she implored Jupiter so earnestly to restore her, that he consented, provided she had eaten nothing during her residence in the infernal regions. Unfortunately, however, while walking
the Elysian Fields, Proserpine had gathered a pomegranate, and eaten several grains of it, which had been observed by Ascalaphus, who, on informing Pluto of what had been done, was turned by Čeres into an owl, for his interference. Rapin, in his poem entitled “Les Plasirs du Gentilhomme Champêtre,” published in 1583, gives the following origin of this tree :-A young girl of Scythia, having consulted the diviners to know her fortune, was told by them that she was destined one day to wear a crown. This rendered her so proud and vain, that she was easily seduced by Bacchus, on his promising to give her a crown. He soon grew tired, and abandoned her; and, when she afterwards died of grief, he metamorphosed her into a pomegranate-tree, on the fruit of which, he affixed a crown; thus tardily and ambiguously redeeming his promise. In the language of poets, this shrub is regarded as the symbol of democracy; "probably," says Loudon, "from its fruit consisting of numerous seeds, which form its valuable part, and a worthless crown. In allusion to the latter circumstance, Queen Anne, of Austria, had for a device a pomegranate, with the motto, “My worth is not in my crown;" and Phillips, in his "Pomarium Britannicum," says that, the French, in the island of St. Vincent, had a riddle on the pomegranate, which was "Quelle est la reine qui porte son royaume dans son sein?" alluding to the same properties. “The nightingale," says Russell, in his account of Aleppo, "sings from the pomegranate groves in the day-time."
Soil, Situation, Propagation, Sc. The single wild pomegranate will grow in almost any soil; but the double-flowered varieties, and the species, when 'intended to bear fruit, require a rich, free soil. The double-flowering trees, grown in boxes by the French gardeners, are planted in the very richest soil that can be composed; and a portion of this soil is renewed every year. The plant is easily propagated by cuttings of the shoots of the roots, by layers, or by grafting one kind on another. It also rises freely from seeds; but these ought to be sown immedidiately on being removed from the fruit; because they very soon lose their vital powers. In pruning this tree, the head should be thinned out in such a manner as to multiply as much as possible, short, slender shoots, on the points of which alone, the flowers are produced. In training it against a wall, it is necessary to keep this constantly in view ; for, if these slender shoots are cut off, no flowers will be produced. In very rich soils, an advantage is derived by annually pruning the roots.
Properties and Uses. The general diffusion of the pomegranate throughout the climates suited to its growth, implies that it possesses highly valuable properties. In hot countries, its utility is incontestable; for its juice is most grateful to the palate, and assuages thirst in a degree quite peculiar to it, from its pleasant acid—an acid so soft, that it may, in truth, be said to be full of melting sweetness," as Moore expresses himself. The pulp, however, which encloses the seeds, is sometimes acid, sometimes sweet; and in some cases, vinous, astringent, and always refreshing. A syrup is made from the pulp by the druggists, as well as from the dried flowers, which is employed as an astringent and detergent. The rind of the fruit, on account of its astringent properties, is sometimes employed in materia medica as well as in the veterinary art. It has also been used as a substitute for galls, in the manufacture of black ink, and is said to be still employed, in some parts of Germany, in dyeing leather red, in imitation of morocco. In the Himalayas, Mr. Royle informs us, the rind of the fruit, called naspal, " being very astringent, is used in medicine, as well as in dyeing. The employment, by the natives of India, of the bark of the root for the expulsion of the tape-worm, being now well known, since the subject was communicated by Drs. Hamilton and Fleming, is a remarkable instance of the oblivion into which even a valuable medicine may fall, as this property was well known to Dioscorides.” Lord Bacon recommends the juice of pomegranates as good for liver complaints; and Dr. Woodville says, it is preferable to that of oranges, in cases of fever. From the flowers, with the addition of alum, there may be obtained a fine red ink. The flowers, also, were formerly used to dye cloth a light-red.