POMEGRANATE

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POMEGRANATE (punica granatum). In its wild state, this is a dense spiny shrub, eight or ten feet high, but, when cultivated with care, and in a favorable climate, it attains double these dimensions. It is supposed to have originated in the north of Africa, and thence to have been introduced into Italy. By the Romans it was called malum Punicum, or Carthaginian apple, and the country adjacent to Carthage was then celebrated for its production. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate, entire and smooth; the flowers are of a brilliant red, large, and almost sessile; the fruit, when cultivated, attains the size of a large apple, and has a thick coriaceous rind, crowned at the summit with the teeth of the persistent calyx. It is filled with a multitude of small red seeds, and the pulp is more or less acid, and slightly astringent. The pomegranate is nowT naturalized as well as extensively cultivated throughout a great part of the south of Europe, for the sake of the fruit; and, even in those climates where this does not attain perfection, the beauty of the flowers renders it a favorite ornamental shrub Numerous remarkable varieties have been produced, differing in the beauty of their flowers, and in the taste and quality of the fruit. The pomegranate, in warm climates, sometimes attains an enormous size. A cooling, and agreeable beverage is made of the juice mixed with water and sugar or honey. Another species (P. nana) inhabits the West Indies and Guiana, where it is sometimes used as a hedge plant. The flowers and fruit are very small. These two plants, by themselves, constitute a distinct natural family.