IMG_1186 (1280x960) (2)

The pomegranate (石榴), botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing shrub or small tree belonging to Order Myrtales and Family Lythraceae. Pomegranate is grown for its fruit crop, and as ornamental shrubs or trees in parks and gardens.

The pomegranate originated in the region of modern-day Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region and northern India. It is believed that pomegranate was introduced into China by Zhang Qian (張騫)(200 CBC – 113 BCE). Zhang Qian was a Chinese official and diplomat to the part of Asia west of China in the Han Dynasty (漢朝).

Pomegranates were brought to China along the route of the Silk Road. They were introduced to Spanish America in the late 16th century and to California in 1769 by the Spanish settlers.

The flowers are bisexual, terminal and solitary. The calyx is tubular at the bottom and with 6 calyx lobes (sepals). It is reddish orange in colour. The corolla is made up of 6 reddish orange petals emerging from the edge of the calyx tube. Stamens are numerous emerging in many whorls, the filaments are distinct, and the anthers 2-celled, dorsifixed, dehiscing longitudinally. One single pistil; the ovary is said to be inferior as it is situated below the corolla, stamens and most of the calyx. The ovary forms a many-chambered and many-seeded fruit.

P1010812 (954x1144)
A flower and a flower bud
P1010825 (1280x600)
The 6 petals, 6 calyx lobes (sepals) dissected out from the calyx tube, the rest of the calyx tube with numerous stamens inside
P1010845 (823x1280)
The vertical section of the flower with the petals present. The stamens attach to the inner calyx wall.

 

P1430407 (1280x1042)
The numerous stamens of the flower. The anther is yellowish white and the filament is reddish orange in colour
P1050012 (1046x1280)
The stigma and the style of the flower

 

It is believed that the many-chambered and many seeded fruit originated from two whorls of basal carpels . During the development of the ovary the outer carpels become tilted up and superposed. The result is that two layers of chambers are formed. The outer or upper ones occupying a parietal position.

 

Bailey drawing

Punica granatum; b, flower, vertical section (less calyx) c, ovary, cross-section, upper part, showing parietal placentation of the ovules; d, ovary cross-section, lower part showing axile placentation of the ovules . (From L.H. Bailey (1949), Manual of Cultivated Plants, The Macmillan Company)

 

P1430478 (1253x1058)
Vertical section of the young ovary. Ovules of the upper chambers show parietal placentation whereas those of the lower central chamber show axile placentation

 

P1430448 (1280x1168)
Transverse section of the young ovary showing the ovules inside
P1430462 (1280x1225)
Another section transverse section of the young ovary

 

IMG_1182 (1280x1090)
The petals have fallen off from the flower

P1020793 (893x1024)

P1010679 (1280x539)
The development of the flower to a young fruit. The ovary is increasing in size and the stamens are drying up.

 

P1010706 (1280x1051)
A young fruit has been vertically cut open to show the developing ovules (premature seeds) inside
P1010699 (1258x1280)
Transverse section of a young fruit of similar developmental stage as that of the above

 

flower structure (2)
Punica granatium: e, fruit; f, fruit, cross section, lower half (From L.H. Bailey (1949), Manual of Cultivated Plants, The Macmillan Company)

 

P1020800 (757x1024)
A fruit very close to maturity
P1020801 (1024x707)
The above fruit is cut into halves to show the seeds inside.

 

P1470014 - Copy - Copy (2) (1024x1000)
The fruit wall ruptures to expose the seeds inside.
P1020726 - Copy - Copy (2) (825x1024)
Another ruptured fruit
IMG_2357 (929x1024)
The seeds inside the uptured fruit are pink in colour

 

The above three images can be commonly found in Chinese paintings as pomegranate is a popular symbol of fertility and numerous progeny.

 

A study of commercially-grown pomegranate fruit from USA

The size of the fruit is about 10 cm in diameter. The shape is quite spherical.
The size of the fruit is about 10 cm in diameter. The shape is quite spherical.
Vertical section of a fruit showing many chambers of carpels inside with numerous seeds. The placentation of the seeds in the upper chambers is parietal whereas those in the lower chamber is axile.
Vertical section of a fruit showing many chambers of carpels inside with numerous seeds.

The vertical section of the fruit shows a few chambers of carpels inside with numerous seeds. The placentation of the seeds in the upper chambers is parietal whereas those in the lower chamber is axile.

P1010869 (1280x772)
Another fruit has been cut transversely into 7 sections to reveals the chambers of carpels.

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to December, and in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May. The fruit is fleshy with many seeds inside. Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp — the edible arils (a specialized outgrowth from a seed that partly or completely covers the seed). The arils are used in cooking, baking, making drinks and as meal garnishes.

Pomegranate seeds are used as a spice known as anardana commonly used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

Pomegranate has medicinal uses as folk medicine in China, India and some other Asian countries.

 

Symbolism

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition.

 

Ancient Greece

In Ancient Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the “fruit of the dead”, and believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis (a central figure in various mysterious religions).

 

China

Pomegranate has been widely considered an emblem of fertility and numerous progeny.

Promegranate (石榴) symbolizes fertility; this fruit is full of seeds. The word for seed is zi, it is also the word for sons.
Promegranate (石榴) symbolizes fertility; the fruit is full of seeds. The word for seed is zi, it is also the word for sons.
(榴開百年)
As the Promegranate Opens – Many Seeds Appear (榴開百子)
子孫萬代
Sons and Grandsons – Ten Thousand Generations (子孫萬代)

Chinese paintings of the pomegranates throughout the centuries

image
Lu Zonggui (魯宗貴)(Sung Dynasty 960 – 1179) 吉祥多子圖
5 (2)
Fǎ Cháng(法常)(active between 1260–1280)
Artist unknown. Late Southern Song dynasty or early Yuan dynasty circa1200–1340 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Artist unknown. Late Southern Song dynasty or early Yuan dynasty circa 1200–1340 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

 

Shen Zhou (沈周)(1427-1509)
Shen Zhou (沈周)(1427-1509)
Shen Zhou (沈周)(1427-1509)
Shen Zhou (沈周)(1427-1509)
Chen Chun 陳淳 (1483 – 1544)
Chen Chun (陳淳) (1483 – 1544)
Xu Wei (徐渭)(1523-1593)
Xu Wei (徐渭)(1523-1593)

 

 

Xu Wei (徐渭)(1523-1593)
Xu Wei (徐渭)(1523-1593) details of the above painting

 

6 (3)
Xiang Shengmo (項聖謨)(1597–1658)
7
Xiang Shengmo (項聖謨)(1597–1658)

 

Shí Zhú Zhāi Shū Huà Pǔ (十竹齋書畫譜) (around 1600-1670)
Shí Zhú Zhāi Shū Huà Pǔ (十竹齋書畫譜) (around 1600-1670) (print)
10a
Shí Zhú Zhāi Shū Huà Pǔ (十竹齋書畫譜) (around 1600-1670) (print)

 

14 (3)
Wu Changshuo (吳昌碩)(1844 – 1927)

 

Qi Baishi (齊白石)(1864 – 1957)
Qi Baishi (齊白石)(1864 – 1957)

 

chiu 90 (2)
Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂) (1905 – 1998) Flowers of pomegranate
chiu 90
Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂) (1905 – 1998)
chiu 92
Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂) (1905 – 1998)
chiu 93 (2)
Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂) (1905 – 1998)
chiu 93
Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂) (1905 – 1998)

 

Lù Yì fēi (陸抑非) (1908 – 1997)
Lù Yì fēi (陸抑非) (1908 – 1997)

 

Acknowledgments :

I would like to thank Miss Joanne Lam for giving me some good images of the flowers and for her continuous support.

 

Bibliography

Bailey, L.H. (1949) Manual of Cultivated Plants, The Macmillan Company

Maria Rudova, Lev Menshikov, Viacheslav Sobolev, Yurin Kirilin (1988) Chinese Popular Prints, Aurora Publishers, Leningrad

陳相鋒 陳姿娟 (2012) 画室必備 – 中國画技法圖典 蔬果篇 湖北美術出版社

户辅圣 (2003) 中国画历代名家技法图典 花鳥编(上) 上海華书画出版社

(明) 胡正言 (2014) 十竹齋書畫譜 上海書畫出版社 ISBN 978-7-5479-0838-9

Chao Shao-ang (趙少昂) (1990) A Study of Chinese Paintings, Publisher: Ho Kung-shang, Art Book Co., Ltd, Taiwan, ISBN 957-9045-22-4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomegranate

https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%9F%B3%E6%A6%B4  (石榴)(written in Chinese)

http://baike.baidu.com/subview/105431/9494773.htm#11 (石榴花)(written in Chinese)

 

Advertisements