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Punica granatum

Common Name(s):
'Nana' - Compact/dwarf form
Edible Plants, Shrubs, Trees

If you have ever eaten a pomegranate, then you know the allure and curiosity of this unique fruit.  The sweetly tart juice from the “seeds” makes a delicious and nutritious snack high in potassium and vitamin C.  Although not commonly incorporated into holiday meals, pomegranates will soon start to make their yearly appearance at the local grocery stores. The origin of the pomegranate is not completely known; however this fruit is commonly grown in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  Although pomegranates can be grown in the Southeast, commercial production is almost exclusively in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The name pomegranate translates to “seeded apple”. This fruit is usually about the size of a large orange.  Once the leathery outer skin is removed, hundreds of red “seeds” are revealed.  Although we may call these little fruit “seeds”, they are botanically known as arils.  An aril is a fleshy, juicy, brightly colored tissue, which covers the actual seed.  Animals are attracted to these tasty morsels will help disperse the seeds. 

Pomegranates grow on a shrub-like tree.  Although this plant prefers warm, arid regions, it can be grown in some parts of North Carolina.  The pomegranate is considered cold-hardy from zones 8 to 10, so plants grown in our area may need to be protected in the winter.  The plant usually survives the winter, but will be killed to the ground at temperatures below 10 F.  In addition to being a delicious, nutritious snack, pomegranates can be used in holiday wreathes and centerpieces.  Be creative – you can use them fresh or dried to add a touch of brilliant red beauty.

In the southeast, pomegranates do not fruit reliably due mostly to poor pollination and the humid climate.  However, this does not negate the ornemental value of the plant. 

Wildlife Value:  The brilliant flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds.



10-12 ft.
Alternate, opposite or whorled lustrous dark green leaves; 1 to 3 in. long; yellow-green fall color
1 in. orange, red, pink, yellow, or white flowers with crepe paper-like petals in early summer to fall; 2 to 3.5 in. edible fruit in fall; thick rind, seedy and tart
Sun to partial shade; range of soil conditions; tolerates sand and clay
Medium to coarse
Upright oval to spreading rounded shrub; slender branches
Select a fruit that is heavy for the size and does not have cracks or splits. Pomegranates are hand harvested at peak ripeness. Store whole fruit at room temperature for a few days or place in the refrigerator in plastic bags for up to 3 months. Visit the California Pomegranate website at for their quick and easy method to extracting those yummy arils! Arils can also be refrigerated or frozen in a single layer than placed in bags in the freezer for a quick snack later!
10-12 ft.
Growth Rate:
cpp, small tree, nectar, flower arrangements, showy fruit, deciduous, fall color, specimen, drought tolerant, edible, hummingbirds, wildlife, showy

NCCES plant id: 1733

Punica granatum Punica granatum growth habit
Phillip Merritt, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Punica granatum Punica granatum in fruit
Delphine Gimbert, CC BY-NC-2.0
Punica granatum 'Nana' Punica granatum 'Nana' flowers
Scott Zona, CC BY-NC-2.0
Punica granatum Punica granatum in winter, it is deciduous.
Lucy Bradley, CC BY-NC - 4.0