Florida Heritage Foods


Common name


Scientific Name

Punica granatum


Other Common Names

Grenada (Spanish), 石榴 (shí liu, Mandarin) अनार (Annar, Hindi), દાડમ (Dāḍama, Gujarati), Makomamanga (Swahili), rummaanka (Somali), نامر (rumaan, Arabic)

The pomegranate has an ancient history dating to the early Egyptian civilization, and it was an important symbol in a wide variety of religious texts and mythological stories throughout the Mediterranean region. The fruit is highlighted in ancient and modern works of art from Roman mosaics to Renaissance still life, and the juice has been used in beverages and medicines for thousands of years. Pomegranate trees were brought to Florida by Europeans in the 1700s, and the tree’s beautiful flowers and healthy fruits can be found in Florida landscapes today.

Historical Significance

Severin Roesen's still life celebrates an American harvest and the promise of more to come. The split pomegranate and half-eaten melon carry the seeds of next year's planting. Smithsonian Art Museum. Digital Public Library.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the pomegranate is native to Asia, entered into cultivation approximately 5000 years ago, and spread throughout Europe and the Middle East. The ancient fruit was first brought to the Americas by Spanish sailors, and specifically to Mexico and California by missionaries. It was introduced to Florida in the 18th century, and today it is featured in a variety of local wines, beverages, candies, syrups, flavorings, jams, and fruit dishes.

Cultural Significance

The pomegranate has played an important, cultural role for many civilizations. It plays a central role in the myth of Persephone and Hades. The ancient Egyptians included it in New Kingdom tombs (such as King Tut) to aid the soul in the afterlife. The pomegranate was a fruit of the Promised Land for the Hebrews, and it is mentioned in the “Song of Solomon” in the Old Testament Bible. According to Jewish tradition, the 613 seeds of the pomegranate represent the 613 commandments of the Torah. The pomegranate is the “Fruit of Paradise” in the Quran, and it was symbolic of a mother’s breast as a ‘giver of life’ in ancient Arabic traditions. The health benefits of pomegranate juice has gained recent attention in the United States, and pomegranate flavoring is becoming more popular multicultural restaurants throughout Florida that include Persian (fesenjan), Lebanese (fattoush), and Armenian (pomegranate salads, glazes, and syrups) influences.
The story of Vertumnus and Pomona dates to Roman antiquity, and made popular in Ovid’s "Metamorphoses." Vertumnus, the god of seasonal change, seduced Pomona, the goddess of orchards and gardens—her name remaining familiar through the word pomegranate. Jan Saenredam (1605) Digital Public Library.

Cooking With Pomegranate

Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols (antioxidants),potassium,  fiber, and natural sugars.

Pomegranates PLant Card Photo
Pomegranates PLant Card Photo

Growing Tips

Pomegranates are adapted to a variety of soil types and climates. They are propagated by cuttings and offshoots at nurseries and can be grown as a tree or shrub. Transplant a young tree into well-drained soil. Apply pine bark mulch to keep weeds down and soil moist. Young trees should bear fruit within two years after transplant and are considered mature in five to seven years, though pomegranate trees can live up to 200 years. To plan a heritage garden, download the ‘Planning a Florida Heritage Garden (PDF).’

Pomegranate in the Persian manuscript, Qazwīnī, Zakarīyā ibn Muḥammad, approximately 1203-1283. Spencer Collection, New York Public Library