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» The pomegranate or Punica granatum (Latin name) is, together with the fig, one of the most interesting and well-known of all historic fruits with a lot of interesting history and mythology around them.

» The pomegranate grows as large as a shrub or small tree and is normally deciduous in colder areas. They have shiny lanceolate leaves and the branches are often thorny.  The flowers are normally range from orange to red in colour.  It bears male flowers as well as hermaphrodite flowers from  which the pomegranate fruit develop.

» Similar to the fig, it is also considered by some historians that pomegranates were the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden.

» The first domestication of the pomegranate is believed to have started in Persia some 4000 years ago.

» It was grown in Ancient Egypt since 1500 B.C. and was seen as a symbol of prosperity, ambition and fertility. The fruit was also buried with the deceased as a symbol of hope of rebirth.

» It is also mentioned in scriptures of all the major religions of the world with various important symbolisms and traditions associated with it.

» In the Middle East the pomegranate is seen as a symbol of fertility, abundance and prosperity.

» In Christianity the pomegranate is seen as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ.

Origin of Pomegranates

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» Pomegranates originated from the Middle East and Eastern Asia(Persia). It was introduced to many other areas with similar climates worldwide.

» The birth place of the pomegranate is seen as the Kopet Dag Mountains of Central Asia and wild pomegranates can still be found there today.

» Since pomegranates and figs originate roughly from the same area we like to see them respectedly as the "King" and "Queen" of all fruits.

Types of Pomegranates

» Wild pomegranates are often very thorny with thick hard skin. The arils(fleshy red coated seeds inside the fruit) are hard-seeded with a sweet sour taste. There are many natural variations.

» Ornamental pomegranates are mostly grown for their flowers and most seldom produce any fruit. They are called flowering pomegranates and colours vary from white, cream, orange, red and also bi colours. There are also dwarf varieties available.

» Fruit producing pomegranates grown for consumption are classified into the following groups:

| Hard-seeded
| Semi-hard seeded
| Soft seeded.

These three groups are then further classfied as sour, sweet-sour or sweet.

There are hundreds of cultivars available but only a few are planted commercially.

Why Plant Pomegranates

» Pomegranates are tough, easy to grow and very rewarding.

» They are well-known for their great health and healing properties (see special section further down).

» Nothing beats the satisfaction of growing your own, freshly picked pomegranates.

» They are heat and drought resistant and use less water than other fruit crops.

» Fresh pomegranates are relatively expensive to purchase and not readily available.

» They also make great small ornamental trees for any garden.

» They are ancient and have a lot of soul. Some people plant them to bring prosperity and good health.

Health Benefits

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» No other fruit has more powerful anti-oxidants, vitamins and nutrient dense minerals than the pomegranate. Various studies can prove its health benefits.

» Ancient civilizations often used pomegranates to heal almost every health problem they had to deal with.

» Pomegranates contain a powerful and unique anti-oxidant called "punicalagin".

» It will inhibit the growth of cancer and tumors especially breast, prostrate, colon and leukemia.

» It gives excellent immune support.

» It benefits heart and blood vesels by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and also helps clear heart blockages.

» It increases bonemass and helps with osteosporosis.

» It is said to improve brain functions and memory.

» It helps with stomach upsets and improves diabetes.

» It can help ease and normalise the nervous system and it is used against radiation sickness.

» Aids with Aging, Alzheimer's, Diarrhea, Liver Fibrosis, wound healing and improves appetite.

» Various studies are still ongoing about all the other health benefits of pomegranates.

The Story about Dr. Gregory Levin

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» Dr. Levin,a Russian-born botanist, worked at the Garrygala Agricultural Station in Turkmenistan from 1961 until 2000.

» Dr. Levin specialized in the the genus Punica and most of his research was done at the research station.

» The station was funded by the then Soviet Union as Turkmenistan was one of it's republics.

» The research station was perfectly situated in a protected valley surrounded by the nearby Kopet Dag mountains. It was protected from the hot dessert summers and the worst of the cold winters.

» He collected and planted 1117 living specimens of pomegranate plants from 27 countries on four continents at the station.

» Dr. Levin is seen today as the world's foremost authority on pomegranates, the genus "Punica" and he has experience of more than 40 years in this field.

» It was the largest gene pool collection of pomegranates on the planet.

» Numerous studies was done on these plants and certain strains were selected for further development in agriculture. Some new varieties were also developed by him here. More than 300 scientific papers were written about the topic by him.

» After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 things slowly started to detiorate and funding for the station also dwindled and stopped.

» Because of lack of funding, irrigation of the orchards became impossible. Special selected trees were watered by hand. Many trees died because of the drought.

» In 2002 the newly elected Government ordered the orchards to be destroyed and to be replaced with vegetable research. Luckily Dr. Levin manage to send cuttings of the most important variants to the University of California, Davis and Ben Gurian University of the Negev in Israel.

» This selfless act ensured that valueable new genes and varieties of pomegranates were made avaialble to the rest of the world. Some of the varieties are already grown commercially in many countries around the world.

» Unable to face the destruction of all his hard work over the past 40 years he decided to leave the station and retired in Israel.

» Barbara Baer, an editor at Florean Press "discovered" Dr. Levin and encougared him to write his books and revealed to the world the amazing work he has put into the Pomegranate.

» He is the Author of "Pomegranate" and also his autobiography "Pomegrante Roads:A Soviet Botanist Exile from Eden."

» Many thanks to this great botanist for all his hard work, dedication and for making many new varieties available to the rest of the world!