Genus of the Week
Week of October 5-11
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Punica - The Pomegranate
Number of Species: 2
Root: Formerly known as Malus punica, or "Punical Pome". Punica appears
to simply be a reference to Carthage. The word "Pomegranate" comes from the Old French
"pome" or "pomme", meaning apple, and "grenate" or "grenade", apparently in reference to the
large amounts of seeds.
The genus Punica is the only one in the Punicaceae. The two species, P. protopunica
and P. granatum, can grow as either shrubs or trees. The fruits derived from these plants,
pomegranates, are filled with hundreds of seeds, each one surrounded by juice-filled flesh. It
is from this juice that the drink grenadine is made. The bark and roots of the plant as well as
the rind of the fruit, which contain various tannins and alkaloids, have long been used for
their herbal properties. At least in the Northeastern U.S., pomegranates are available for
only a brief period during the early fall, so experience one today!
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Punica species:
- The Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center at the University of California Davis has
already compiled a good list of web resources
about this genus. The focus is on agricultural information, including how to grow these plants
and how to produce good fruits.
- Cornell University has a nice, albeit huge, drawing of the
flowers and fruit of P. granatum.
- Learn about the many herbal uses of
P. granatum at HerbWeb.
- Punica plants can be trained as
bonsai. This page also links to a page describing the dozens of Pomegranate cultivars
- Learn about the ancient
uses and biblical references to the Pomegranate at the Navigating the Bible web site.
- The "Don't Panic Eat Organic" web site has some
nice photos of pomegranates, harvested or still on the tree.
- Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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