The pomegranate, Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall. Native to the area of modern day Iran and Iraq, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as well as the Himalayas in Northern India. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout Turkey, Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, China, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, the drier parts of southeast Asia, the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe, and tropical Africa.
Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is also cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production. In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, the pomegranate is in season from March to May. Melbourne's mild climate is particularly well-suited to this tree and many fine specimens can be seen gracing the front and back yards of houses, especially those belonging to immigrants from the countries where the pomegranate is widespread
The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns and the Quran. In recent years, it has reached mainstream prominence in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere. Its health benefits are numerous and it finds widespread culinary uses.
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