Monday, July 1, 2013

Pomegranates In Hawaii

There are indeed pomegranate trees growing throughout the tropical Hawaiian Islands. Pomegranates are rather small trees growing 15 – 20 feet tall.  What they lack in height they make up in longevity; some are reported to be 200 years old.  

The trees seem to tolerate a wide range of conditions. They do well in hot and dry conditions with high alkaline soils, as well as growing in deep, acidic loam soils.  Pomegranate trees also tolerate wet, heavy (clay) soils but produce better in soils that are well-drained. Trees do not come true from seed, and therefore, good quality fruit trees are propagated from cuttings.  Air layering is possible; grafting is seldom successful.

Pomegranates have been around for eons.  Over the centuries, their depiction has appeared in artwork, literature, coinage, jewelry and coat of arms. Believed to have originated around Persia and the Himalayas in Northern India, the pomegranate has been used as a symbol for many civilizations and sometimes viewed as a symbol of fertility in Asia.

The Spanish missionaries brought pomegranates to California, Mexico and Texas.  And recently, from 2006 to 2009, pomegranate acreage in California doubled from 15,000 to about 30,000 acres.

Pomegranate juice is rich in three types of antioxidants which are recognized in neutralizing free radicals and other unstable molecules in the body.  Besides eating the fruit or making a delicious beverage, the fruits can also be dried and used in wreaths and other decorations.  Pomegranate juice is being added to such products as jelly, ice cream bars, truffles and chewing gum. Ink can be made by steeping the leaves in vinegar. In Japan, an insecticide is derived from the bark.