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The thanks of the writer are extended to Mr. C. G. Lloyd for bot-anical
notes and to Mr. Sigmond Waldbott, librarian of the Lloyd Lib-ary,
for invaluable assistance.
The genus punica consists at the present time of two
species 1 , the one under consideration and P. protopunica,
described in 1882 by Balfour 2 , from the island of Socotra.
Punica granatum has been in cultivation from the
earliest historical times, and is now found in all warm
countries of the world, and frequently as an ornamental
plant in this country and abroad 3 , where it requires pro-tection
during the winter season, as it will not endure
the cold. It is recorded, e. g., that in 1838 the trees
in the neighborhood of London were killed by the frost.4
The form generally grown as ornament is the double
variety, and consequently barren. The fruit of the pome-granate
has been esteemed a delicacy from the most
ancient time, and we often see it offered for sale at our
fruit stands. In the West Indies, where the plant would
thrive naturally, it is not extensively cultivated, and the
writer of this botanical history (C. G. Lloyd), who has
visited all these islands, does not remember to have seen
it or its fruit there. Like all cultivated plants, it is liable
to variation, and several of its forms have been consid-ered
distinct species and named by several authors ; how-ever,
they are all now considered forms of one species.
The pomegranate plant is a shrub in cultivation in this
country, but in the tropics reaches the height of a small
tree 10 to 15 feet high. The leaves are opposite, are
sometimes alternate above, oblong or lanceolate, thick
and with entire margin. The flowers are bright-red and
are clustered in the axis of the upper leaves, Varieties
of white and even black (?) flowers are stated to exist in
Java.43,44 The calyx is thick, leathery, adnate, with five
to seven thick valvate sepals. The stamens are numerous,
inserted in the calyx tube. The petals are normally
the same number as the segments of the calyx and
inserted in the mouth of the calyx-tube alternate with
its segments. In the double flowers commonly cultivated
the petals are of course indefinitely increased by trans-formation
of the stamens. The fruit, which has been
prized for the pulp in which the seeds are imbedded, is
about the size of an apple*, smooth, with a thick skin,
and is in reality the enlarged calyx surmounted by its per-sistent
lobes. It is divided by thin divisions into a number
of cells, each packed full of angular seeds contained in a
juicy pulp.
The pomegranate shrub, according to De Candolle 6 , is
originally a native of Persia and adjacent countries, but
has been cultivated and naturalized in the Mediterranean
countries at such an early date that it has even been
considered indigenous to these countries.
Pomegranate was included among the vegetables that
were held sacred by the Assyrians 7 and the Egyptians;8
and the latter nation made it a custom to place in the
graves of the dead fruits of the field and garden, among
them pomegranates, specimens of which are preserved to
the present day 25 . The pomegranate had undoubtedly
an occult significance with the ancient nations. It was
frequently used as a mystical emblem in adorning the
capitals of Assyrian 7,9 and Egyptians columns, and the
Bible tells us that in the building of Solomon’s temple
the capitals of the columns were decorated with a “ net-work
of pomegranates.”10 Also the hem of the high-priest’s
robe was adorned with imitations of pome-granates
in blue, purple and scarlet, alternating with bells
of gold 11 . The pomegranate was one of the three fruits
brought to Moses by the men that he sent to spy out
the land of promise 12 , Many other passages scattered
throughout the Bible refer to our plant 13 , and testify to
the esteem in which the tree and the fruit (then called
rimmon) were held in ancient times. The fruit and seed
of the pomegranate are mentioned in the “Arabian
* Called by Pliny malum punicum (Punic or Carthaginian apple),
Pomegranates were represented on Carthaginian and
Phenician medals 14 and on the reverse of the coins of the
island of Rhodes 8 . In Greek mythology the pomegran-ate
is very conspicuous 15 l6 17 , and symbolizes fecundity
and abundance. The fruit was dedicated to Juno, a
deity always represented in sculptures as holdmg a pome-granate,
The Greek authors, e. g., Theophrastus,18 describe the
pomegranate under the names of “ roa ” and “roa side” ;
also Dioscorides 22 , who quite explicitly sets forth the
medicinal properties of the different parts of the plant.
Among Roman authors who describe the pomegranate
and its uses are Cato Censorius 19 , Pliny 20 , Celsus 21 , and
others. Subsequent writers, for example the Arabians,
in the ninth century, also refer to the pomegranate, but
seem to have mainly reiterated the substance of the writ-ings
of their Greek and Roman predecessors.14 Of the
writers of the middle ages may be mentioned Tragus 23
and J. Bauhinus 24 , the latter giving a most detailed com-pilation
of that which was known before his time on the
subject of the pomegranate, including the myths with
which it is connected. It was not until the present cen-tury,
however, that the literature of the pomegranate
was enriched by the study of its chemical aspects.
The bark of the root, according to Wackenroder (1824),
contains 22 per cent (according to a later authority, in
1880, 20 per cent) of a tannic acid,subsequently termed pun-icotannic
acid. The astringency of the root is due to this
principle and the aqueous infusion yields a dark-blue
color or precipitate with ferric salts. In 1878 and 1880
Tanret discovered several alkaloids in the root-bark, the
most prominent of which he called pelletierine. This has
been shown to possess the anthelmintic properties of the
root.25 The amount of alkaloids in the root-bark seems
to vary according to the variety of flowers, the white-flowering
variety, occurring in Java, yielding as high as
3.75 per cent of hydrochlorids of total alkaloids.43 The
bark also contains mannite and a yellow coloring mat-ter.
A yellow stain is produced if the inner surface of
the root-bark is moistened with water and rubbed on
paper 26 .
The rind of the fruit also contains a considerable
amount of tannic acid, about 19 per cent. It is stated
that the rind of the fruit of the wild pomegranate is
more astringent than that of the cultivated.27
Pomegranate flowers called balaustion by Dios-corides,
22 also are rich in tannic acid, have a bitterish
and astringent taste, but no odor. They color the saliva
For Tanning.-Pliny 20 mentions that the rind of the
sour variety of pomegranate was used as a tanning ma-terial.*
Shortly after the days of Pliny the Moors introduced
tanning into Spain, and their finest moroccos were
tanned with the rind of this fruit.13 Tanning in this
manner is still in vogue in some countries, e. g., Tunis,
where the pomegranate abounds;25 also in Japan.28 .
For Dyeing.-The rind of the pomegranate, especially
that of the wild plant, has been used in India as a dye-stuff
from ancient times. Alexander Burnes, in his travels, de-scribes
“ a little yellow flower,” called Esbaruk, which
grows in the low hills near Karshi and Balkh (in
Afghanistan), and says that it is used as a dye-stuff. He
incidentally remarks that it produces a better color than
the root of the pomegranates 29 Balaustion flowers are
stated by Pliny 20 to be used for dyeing cloth.
As an Article of Food. -The refreshing and cooling
taste of the pulp of this fruit gave the plant great favor
with the ancient natives of oriental countries, and also
in our age the pomegranate is sometimes used as a table
fruit.25 The opinion of its excellence, however, is not
by any means shared universally.14 Pickering 30 states
that in his experience the best pomegranates are found
in Mascat in Arabia. From this province the fruit is
frequently imported into India.31 Wine frequently was
made from the pomegranate in Palestine, as evidenced
from the biblical name “ gath rimmon,” meaning press
of the pomegranate;32 and in Persia, where whole woods
of pomegranates are to be found.29 The art of making
wine from this source was raised to the importance of a
national industry.4
* Hence the name ” malicorium,” from corium, Latin for leather.
Another official name of the rind has been cortex psidii (25),
As a Tenifuge.-Charaka-Samhita 33 , probably the
oldest medical work in the world, in its translation does
not mention the bark of either the tree or the root of
pomegranate and does not mention it in connection with
tenicides.* The anthelmintic properties of the root and
rind, however, were well known to the ancient people of
more proximate historical age. Newberry 34 quotes from
a description on the “ Papyrus Ebers,” discovered in
recent times, on which is found the following passage:
“ To drive away the worm: Make an mfusion of the rind
of pomegranate. ” The Chinese also were acquainted
with the anthelmintic property of the root.25 Among the
Roman authors, some, as e. g. Cato Censorius 19 and
Pliny,20 recommend the fruit rind: others, e. g. Celsus 21 ,
the bark of the root as an efficient vermifuge. The
Arabian writers maintain that the root-bark is a perfect
specific for tapeworm.35
Constantinus Africanus, a prominent physician of the
Salernian school of medicine, is quoted by Tragus as
follows: “ Boil the peelings of pomegranate in wine, and
drink this potion; it will kill all the worms, especially
the kind called ‘ ascarides,’ and it is the peculiar prop-erty
and nature of the pomegranate to kill worms.”23
This virtue of the plant, curiously enough, afterwards
seems to have been entirely overlooked by the medical
profession, and slumbered until the beginning of this
In 1807, Dr. Buchanan, an English physician in India,
announced to Europe the fact that in India, from time
immemorial, the root of the pomegranate tree was used
against tapeworm with miraculous success.36 He cited
successful cases from his own practice and that of others:
“ I have seen two species of tenia expelled by this medi-cine;
one is solium, the other not yet described.†” The
correctness of these statements was subsequently borne
out by the testimony of various eminent physicians. Dr.
Gomez of Lisbon successfully treated fourteen persons
for tapeworm in 1822, and the results were afterwards
published in France by Merat.14 The latter publication
seems to have contributed largely to spread the use of
l However, the work of translation is not complete as yet.
† For a list of references in this direction see Merat & De Lens (14).?this drug as a remedy for tapeworm throughout Europe.
In England, however, pomegranate, it seems, has not as
yet replaced the male-fern.26 In India the drug is now
considered the sovereign remedy for tenia, as various
writers testify.39 40 41
In this connection it may be of interest to state that
in India the pomegranate root-bark is seldom met with
in the shops. As few gardens are without the plant, it is
freshly dug when required.35 Royle 27 and others 42 main-tained
that the dry bark seems not to contain any definite
tenicide principles, but De Vrij brought evidence to the
contrary.44 However, the alkaloid pelletierine was tried
as a tenifuge with much success 35 and is now extensively
employed in the form of a tannate.
The balaustion flowers possess no tenifuge property.
Merat and De Lens state 14 that according to Cullen the
rind of the fruit has less vermifuge power than the bark
of the root, which statement is supported by the evidence
of physicians for whom the writer has prepared the
Other Uses in Medicine.
-The pomegranate, besides
being used as a vermifuge, is employed, although more
rarely, for other medicinal purposes, e. g,, for arresting
hemorrhage and healing ulcers.20 Charaka-Samhita 33
gives the fruit (rind?) a position as an astringent (p. 15
and 33) in diarrhea. Two varieties are described (p. 357)
both being known under the name “ dadima.” In
modern India, a decoction of pomegranate rind is used
in combination with aromatics and opium, for diarrhea,
and a decoction of the root is said to be useful in the
advanced stage of dysentery 40 , The ancient writers, as
Dioscorides 22 and Pliny 20 , indicate numerous uses in
medicine for the various parts and the several species of
the pomegranate, some passages furnishing rather curious
reading matter, which, however, we cannot find space to
The antiquity of the plant explains the fact that the
drug found a place in early pharmacopeias. The
Pharmacopoeia Borussica of 1829 (5th edition) recognized
granatum, cortex pomi and flores balaustiae. In the 6th
edition of 1846, however, we find only cortex radicis?granati.
This was extended in the 1882 edition to cortex
granati, which meant the bark of the plant and that of
the root. The balaustion flowers, usually collected
from the double variety, were still official in 1844 in the
Dublin Pharmacopeia.
As regards the United States Pharmacopeia, granatum
was first recognized in 1830, the Philadelphia edition
introducing the rind of the fruit, the New York edition
the bark of the root. The subsequent editions carried
both, until in 1880 the rind of the fruit was dropped.
In the 1890 edition the stem-bark was added.
(1). Index Kewensis, fasc. IV, p. 662, 1895.
(2). Balfour, Proc. Roy. Soc., Edinburg, XL, p. 512, 1882.
(3). Miller Philip, The Abridgment of the Gardener.’ Dictionary,
5th ed., London, 1763.
(4). John Smith, Dictionary of Popular Names of Plants, p. 232,
London, 1882.
(5). Linnaeus, Spec. Plant ., 2d ed., Vol. II, p. 676, Helmiae, 1764
(6). De Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 237, New York,
(7). E. Bonavia, Flora of the Assyrian Monuments, Westminster,
(8). J. G. Wilkinson, A Popular Account of the Ancient Egyp-tians,
2 vols., New York, 1854,
(9). A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains, Vol. II, p. 233, New
York, 1853.
(10). 1st Book of Kings VII, 18, 20,
(11). Exodus XXVIII, 33, 34.
(12). Th. M. Harris, The Natural History of the Bible, p. 246,
Boston, 1820.
(18) Henry S. Osborne,, Rev., Plants of the Holy Land, pp. 181.
134, Philadelphia, 1861.
(14). Merat & De Lens, Dictionn. Universelle de Mat. Med., Vol.
V, pp. 538-542, Paris, 1833.
(15). Victor Hehn, Kulturpflanxen und Hausthiere in ihrem
Uebergang aus Asien nach Griechenland und Italien, 3d ed., pp. 206-211,
Berlin. 1877.
(16). J. H. Dierbach, Flora Mythologica, pp, 107-110, Frankfurt-am,
(17). Richard Folkard, Plant Lore, Legends & Lyrics, pp. 499-502,
London, 1892.
(18). Theophrastus Eresius, (370 (or 392) to 238 (or 286) B. C.) De
Historia Plantarum Libri Decem. Joannes Bodaeus a Stapel et Julius
Caesar Scaliger, Amstelodami, 1644, pp. 396894.
(19). Cato Censorius, 234-149 B. C. De Re Rustica, p. 127,
(26). Pliny (23-79 A. D.) Lib. XIII, Cap. 19 and lib. XXIII, cap.
6. With French translation and notes by Poinsinet de Sivey.
(21). Celsus (25 B. C.-50 A. D.), De Medicina. Also see English
translation, 2d ed. by G. F. Collier, London, 1831.
(22). Dioscorides (middle of 1st century) Lib. I, cap. 151-154.
With Latin translation by C. G. Kuhn, Lipsiae, 1829.
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