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Pomegranate biodiversity and horticultural management

Ozguven, A.I., Yilmaz, C., Keles, D.
Acta horticulturae 2012 v. no.940 pp. 21-28
Punica granatum, apples, biodiversity, cold storage, domestication, food quality, fruit growing, fruiting, fruits, human health, ingestion, juices, pomegranates, rain, relative humidity, semiarid zones, subtropics, temperature, tropics, wines, Afghanistan, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Chile, China, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey (country), United States, Yemen
The pomegranate, native to Persia, had its first domestication in Iran about 2000 BC. The name, pomegranate, owes its origin to Latin; “pome” meaning apple, and “granate” meaning many seeded and it was, initially called Malum granatum, meaning seeded apple. From the place of its origin, the pomegranate spread to nearby areas, such as the Mediterranean and subsequently reached eastern countries like India and China. Presently, it is cultivated in India, Iran, Turkey, China, Spain, USA, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Greece, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Jordan, Portugal, Cyprus, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, northern parts of Chile, and to a lesser extent, in Burma, and Japan. It is thought as exotic fruit in European countries, as paradise fruit in Arabic countries. Generally, the fruit is used for eating fresh and decorative purposes. Extracted juice is used to a limited extent for grenadine and pomegranate wine, as well as a delicious, highly-coloured jelly. The fruit will keep many weeks at room temperature and longer in cold storage. The rind shrinks and becomes thinner and tougher in storage, improving the eating quality. Also, it is very important fruit in terms of human health. The family Punicaceae contains a single genus Punica L. of two species, Punica granatum L. (pomegranate) and Punica protopunica Balf.f., syn. Socotria protopunica. Wild pomegranates are found in the Near-East Transcaucasia, Dagestan, Central Asia (Kopet-Dag, Pamiro-Alaj) and also in Asia Minor, Iran and Afghanistan. In the Kopet-Dag wild forms show a wide range of variation probably still untouched by breeders. The cultivation of the pomegranate is mainly confined to tropics and subtropics and it grows well in arid and semi-arid climates. Favorable growth takes place where winters are cool and summers are hot. It is evergreen in the tropics and deciduous in the subtropics. It has the ability to withstand frosty conditions, but below -12°C the hardiness is poor. A temperature of 38°C and dry climate during fruit development produce best quality fruits. Areas with high relative humidity or rain are totally unsuitable for its cultivation as fruits produced under such conditions tend to taste less sweet.