Origin and distribution
The cultivated pomegranate and wild sour pomegranate have same taxonomic identity and belongs to the family Lythraceae. It is a native of Iran (Persia) and the western Himalayan range, and widely cultivated in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India Russia and the Mediterranean region from several millennia. In India, wild sour pomegranate grows naturally in the vast tract of mid Himalayan hill slopes of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Vernacularly, it is called as Dalim, Daru, Daaru, and Dharan. The mature fruits of daru are harvested from it natural habits and arils are dehulled, dried to make anardana.
An erect deciduous spreading shrub or tree 4-6 m high, stern, woody and thorny, stiff branched, new light red leaves appear in the middle of March. Leaves opposite, lanceolate, shiny, 3-5.5 cm long, 1-1.7 cm broad, entire margin, petiolated and thin. Flowers sessile, ebracteate, actinomorphic, bisexual, solitary or in axillary clusters of 2-4, persistent calyx, corolla polypetalous, ovary contains numerous ovules, fruits globose, crowned by persistent calyx, possessing a hard rind, yellowish green with a red ting fruits at maturity. Seeds angular with fleshy arils, which constitute the edible part, aril colour varied from red to pinkish white.
Nutritional value and uses
The major use of wild sour pomegranate is for making anardana, which is used in chutney and souring agents in various preparations. It fetch good price in the down town markets. The juice of fresh wild sour pomegranate leaves and young fruits are useful to prevent dysentery. The flower buds are astringent and given in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery. The dried rind yields a fast yellow dye, which is used for dying clothes and hairs. The bark contains an alkaloid punicine, which is highly toxic to tapeworms. The fruits of wild sour pomegranate are rich source of vitamin C and also for other vitamins and minerals.
Wild sour pomegranate occurs naturally in mild temperate to subtropical climate. It thrives in deep loamy, well-drained soils but preferably on the calcareous low fertile soil. Plants of sour pomegranate can be propagated through air layering or gootee and stem cutting. But the most practically feasible method of propagation is semi-hardwood cutting. Stem cuttings are taken from one-year-old wood during the winter season.
Cuttings should be 20-30 cm long, 6-12 mm thick. The leaves should be removed and be treated with IBA rooting hormones at 3000 ppm for 30 seconds. Air layering is done during rainy season and in November-December results in better success with profuse rooting. Planting is done in the pits of 3 x 3 m apart. Pits are filled with the top soil mixed with 20 kg well rotten FYM and about 200 g mixture of NPK. The plants should be watered to settle the soil after the cuttings are planted. Wild sour pomegranate plants do not require pruning except removal of root suckers, water shoots cross branches, dead and diseasedtwigs and giving a shape of tree. The fruits are borne terminally on short spurs, arising from matured shoots, which have capacity to bear fruits for 3-4 years.
Adult tree need manure and fertilizers application @ of 15 kg FYM and 300 g mixture of NPK in the ration of 2:1:1 in the month of January-February. The trees are relatively free from most of the diseases and pests but most common pest is the fruit borer, which is grub of the pomegranate butterfly Virachola isocrates. It can be controlled by 3-4 spray of Dimethoate (0.045%) at the interval of 15-20 days at flowering stage. Fruiting takes place after 4th year of plantation and the fruit yield varies with size and age of the tree.
Germplasm comprising 102 accessions is being maintained at our field gene bank and more than 300 accessions of cultivated and wild pomegranate at National Research Centre on Pomegranate, Sholapur (MS). About 20 accessions have been characterised. The days to fruit maturity ranged from 91 to 131 days. The fruit weight varied from 37.00 to 243.4 g and number of arils/fruit 94 to 406. The total soluble solids ranged from 13.20 to 20.70%. The accessions showed high productivity were IC318706, IC318733, IC318741, IC318759 and IC318760. Around 100 exotic accessions are also being maintained at NBPGR Regional Station, Bhowali. Other countries that maintain the germplasm of cultivated pomegranate are Iran (700), Israel (60), Tunisia (60), Thailand (29), Turkey (180), Ukraine (370), and USA (200).
- National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources Regional Station Phagli, Shimla