What is Dwarf Pomegranate?

The wonderful variety of pomegranate originates from Florida.

The dwarf pomegranate is a diminutive cousin of the large pomegranate trees called Punica granatum , which are known the world over for their succulent seeds that explode in the mouth with a sweet and sour flavor. Named Punica granatum var. nana, these pygmy trees produce fruit about half the size of common pomegranates, which can be eaten – although they are more acidic than sweet. But these trees are mostly prized by landscapers and bonsai enthusiasts for their coveted miniature form.

A full-size pomegranate tree can grow up to 30 feet (about 10 m) and bear fruit as large as 5 inches (about 12.5 cm). Originating in Iran, the fruit has a history of use in literature, religion, culinary traditions and homeopathic remedies throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. Several cultivars have been developed over the centuries, the Wonderful variety originating in Florida, the Kabul in Afghanistan and the Spanish Ruby in California.

Dwarf pomegranate is one of the most prized cultivars for bonsai trees. Its largest specimens can grow up to 8 feet (about 2.5 m), and its fruit can be 2.5 inches in diameter (about 6.4 cm), but it can be much smaller than that with proper pruning and a little bonsai experience. While some are kept as landscaping plants in regular soil, many are kept in pots. Both environments are suitable for this hardy plant, which does best when kept moist.

This plant can be grown from seed and cross-pollinated to bear fruit, or it can be propagated by replanting pruned branches. Sunlight and water should be plentiful for the dwarf pomegranate, but the soil doesn’t have to be ideal, as the plant tends to grow well over rocks and fallen branches. Like most other pomegranate species, the dwarf pomegranate thrives in warmer, arid climates with alkaline soil — climates that don’t drop much below 20°F (about -3.9°C). In North America, this is epitomized by the US Department of Agriculture’s resistance zones nine and 10, covering parts of Texas, California, and Florida.

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In addition to bonsai and landscape potential, dwarf pomegranate seeds can be tossed into fruit salads or eaten one after the other, alone. In Ayurvedic medicine and other herbal traditions, many pomegranate cultivars have been used for at least a few millennia to prevent digestive disorders, condition the skin, strengthen the heart, and lower blood pressure. It can also be used to condition leather.

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