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POMEGRANATE

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 47 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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POMEGRANATE. The pomegranate (Punica Granatum) is of exceptional interest by reason of its structure, its history, and its utility. It forms a tree of small stature, or a bush; with opposite or alternate, shining, lance-shaped leaves, from theaxils of some of which proceed the brilliant scarlet flowers. These are raised on a short stalk, and consist of a thick fleshy cylindrical or bell-shaped calyx-tube, with five to seven short lobes at the top. From the throat of the calyx proceed five to natural size. i, Flower cut lengthwise; the 3, Same cut across, showing petals have been removed. seeds. 2, Fruit, about one-third natural 4, Seed, natural size. size. seven roundish, crumpled, scarlet or crimson petals, and below them very numerous slender stamens. The pistil consists of two rows of carpels placed one above another, both rows embedded in, and partially inseparate from, the inner surface of the calyx-tube. The styles are confluent into one slender column. The fruit, which usually attains the size of a large orange, consists A B (After Eichler, from Sttasburger's Lehrbuch der Botanik, by permission of Gustav Fischer.) A, Floral diagram. B, Longitudinal section of the ovary. of a hard leathery rind, enclosing a quantity of pulp derived from the coats of the numerous seeds. This pulp, filled as it is with refreshing acid juice, constitutes the chief value of the tree. The more highly cultivated forms contain more of it than the wild or half-wild varieties. The great structural peculiarity consists in the presence of the two rows of carpels one above another (a state of things which occurs exceptionally in apples and oranges), and in the fact that, while in the lower series the seeds are attached to the inner border or lower angle of the cavity, they occupy the outer side in the upper series, as if during growth the upper whorl had become completely bent over. By Bentham and Hooker the Punica is included as an anomalous genus in the order Lythraceae; others consider it more nearly allied to the myrtles; while its peculiarities are so great as, in the opinion of many botanists, to justify its inclusion in a separate order, Punicaceae. Not only is the fruit valuable in primitive fashion, and as a rule the livestock is of an inferior quality, though the breed of horses, of a heavy build and mostly used in agriculture, is held in high esteem. Large flocks of sheep are kept, both for their flesh and their wool, and there are in the province large numbers of horned cattle and of pigs, Geese and goose feathers form lucrative articles of export. Owing to the long line of coast and the numerous lakes, fishing forms an important industry, and large quantities of herrings, eels and lampreys are sent from Pomerania to other parts of Germany. With the exception of the almost inexhaustible layers of peat, the mineral wealth of the province is insignificant. Its industrial activity is not great, but there are manufactures of machinery, chemicals, paper, tobacco and sugar; these are made chiefly in or near the large towns, while linen-weaving is practised as a domestic industry. Ship-building is carried on at Stettin and at several places along the coast. The commerce of Pomerania is in a flourishing condition, its principal ports being Stettin, Stralsund and Swinemunde. Education is provided for by a university at Greifswald and by numerous schools. The province sends 14 members to the German Reichstag, and 26 to the Prussian house of representatives. The heir to the Prussian crown bears the title of governor of Pomerania. History.—In prehistoric times the southern coast of the Baltic seems to have been occupied by Celts, who afterwards made way for tribes of.Teutonic stock. These in their turn migrated to other settlements and were replaced, about the end of the 5th century of our era, by Slavonic tribes, the Wilzi and the Pomerani. The name of Pomore, or Pommern, meaning " on the sea," was given to the district by the latter of the tribes about the time of Charlemagne, and it has often changed its political and geographical significance. Originally it seems to have denoted the coast district between the Oder and the Vistula, a territory which was at first more or less dependent on Poland, but which, towards the end of the 12th century, was ruled by two native princes, who took the title of duke about 1170 and admitted the authority of the German king in 1181. Afterwards Pomerania extended much farther to the west, while being correspondingly curtailed on the east, and a distinction was made between Slavinia, or modern Pomerania, and Pomerellen. The latter, corresponding substantially to the present province of West Prussia, remained subject to Poland until 1309, when it was divided between Brandenburg and the Teutonic Order. Christianity was introduced in the 12th century, a bishopric being founded in the Island of Wollin, and its advance went rapidly hand in hand with the Germanizing of the district. The history of Pomerania, as distinct from that of Pomerellen, consists mainly of an almost endless succession of divisions of territory among the different lines of the ducal house; and of numerous expansions and contractions of territory through constant hostilities with the elector of Brandenburg, who claimed to be the immediate feudal superior of Pomerania, and with other neighbouring rulers. The names of Vorpommern and Hinterpommern were at first synonymous with Pomerania proper, or Slavinia and Pomerellen, but towards the close of the 14th century they were transferred to the two duchies into which the former was divided. In 1625 the whole of Pomerania became united under the sway of Duke Bogislaus XIV., and on his death without issue, in 1637, Brandenburg claimed the duchy by virtue of a compact made in 1571. In the meantime, however, Pomerania had been devastated by the Thirty Years' War and occupied by the Swedes, who had taken possession of its towns and fortresses. At the peace of Westphalia they claimed the duchy, in opposition to the elector of Brandenburg, and the result was that the latter was obliged to content himself with eastern Pomerania (Hinterpommern), and to see the western part (Vorpommern) awarded to Sweden. In 1720, by the peace of Stockholm, Swedish Pomerania was cur-tailed by extensive concessions to Prussia, but the district to the west of the Peene remained in the possession of Sweden until the general European settlement of 1815. Then Sweden assigned her German possessions to Denmark in exchange for Norway, whereupon Prussia, partly by purchase and partly by the cession hot countries for the sake of its pulp, but the rind and the bark and the outer part of the root (containing the alkaloid pelletierine) are valuable as astringents. The bark of the root is likewise valued as an anthelmintic in cases of tape-worm. The tree is wild in Afghanistan, north-western India, and the districts south and south-west of the Caspian, but it has been so long cultivated that it is difficult to say whether it is really native in Palestine and the Mediterranean region. It has been cited as wild in northern Africa, but this appears to be a mistake. Professor Bayley Balfour met with a wild species, heretofore unknown, in the island of Socotra, the flowers of which have only a single row of carpels, which suggests the inference that it may have been the source of the cultivated varieties. But, on the other hand, in Afghanistan, where Aitchison met with the tree truly wild, a double row of carpels was present as usual. The antiquity of the tree as a cultivated plant is evidenced by the Sanskrit name Dadimba, and by the references to the fruit in the Old Testament, and in the Odyssey, where it is spoken of as cultivated in the gardens of the kings of Phaeacia and Phrygia. The fruit is frequently represented on ancient Assyrian and Egyptian sculptures, and had a religious significance in connexion with several Oriental cults, especially the Phrygian 'cult of Cybele (Arnob. v. 5 seq.; see also Baudissin, Studien, ii. 207 seq.). It was well known to the Greeks and Romans, who were acquainted with its medicinal properties and its use as a tanning material. The name given by the Romans, malum punicum, indicates that they received it from Carthage, as indeed is expressly stated by Pliny; and this circumstance has given rise to the notion that the tree was indigenous in northern Africa.. On a review of the whole evidence, botanical, literary and linguistic, Alphonse de Candolle (Origin of Cultivated Plants) pronounces against its African origin, and decides in favour of its source in Persia and the neighbouring countries. According to Saporta, the pomegranate existed in a fossil state in beds of the Pliocene epoch near Meximieux in Burgundy. The pomegranate is sometimes met with in cultivation against a wall in England, but it is too tender to withstand a severe winter. The double-flowered varieties are specially desirable for the beauty and long duration of their flowers.
End of Article: POMEGRANATE
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