Plant of The Month: May 2021

Plant of The Month: May 2021

Our team are always on the look out for new developments in the gardens. Each month, our Living Collections Manager, Graham, will be sharing some plants of interest with us.

May 2021: Pomegranate

For the month of May in conjunction with the reopening of the Gardens we’re stepping inside the Pavilion within the Kitchen Garden for this month’s chosen plant which is currently in flower.

Punica granatum is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree from the Lythraceae family, subfamily Punicoideae, better known to us as pomegranate. The name pomegranate is derived from medieval Latin terms pomum – apple - and granatum – seeded - reflecting the abundance of seeds per fruit. Curiously the French name for pomegranate is grenade, from which the military weapon took its name.

The pomegranate has multiple spiny branches with glossy narrow leaves, oblong in shape and arranged oppositely or sub-oppositely up to 7cm in length. The bright red flowers are 3cm in diameter and contain between three and seven petals each.

Primarily grown as a fruit crop pomegranate is also used as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens as more mature specimens develop sculptural twisted-bark multi-trunks which provide a distinctive overall form. They’re both drought and frost tolerant and known for longevity, up to around 200 years old. Our specimen is approximately 7 years old and came from Franchi Seeds of Italy in 2016.

Grown in South America, Mediterranean areas, the Middle East, India, Turkey and to a lesser extent southern USA states the widespread appeal of pomegranates is reflected in the cuisine of many countries as is its inclusion in the symbolism of many cultures, chiefly as a sign of fertility and fecundity.