Fruit Forum

Pomegranates Fruiting in England

Photo - see caption
Pomegranates on sale in Iran
If evidence of a change in our climate was needed you only have to look at fruit. A couple of months ago I was in Cambridge following the tourist trail through the colleges when to my astonishment we came upon a pomegranate laden with the remnants of a heavy crop of fruit. It was a large spreading shrub, 6-8 ft tall, just coming into leaf, showing no signs of being cut back by frost and still carrying its fruit, now brown and somewhat shrivelled, but immediately recognisable by the characteristic crown on top. Growing at St Johns College, it was in a corner sheltered by walls on two sides but nevertheless out in the open. While it is not unusual for a pomegranate to flower in England it rarely fruits.

The pomegranate needs a mild-temperate to subtropical climate. At home in its native Iran and neighbouring Iraq and Syria, it has been cultivated around the Mediterranean since ancient times, giving its name to Granada in southern Spain, but not adapted to our climate. Pomegranates are planted in England for the ornamental value of their young coppery leaves and showy scarlet, funnel-shaped flowers and, according to the gardening authorities, only fruit after a long hot summer. The pomegranate at St Johns has cropped for the last few years, although not before, the head gardener told me. That it now produces fruit be believes is due to our recent mild winters and hot summers.

We hear of persimmon fruiting in Kent and loquats in London gardens, it would be interesting to hear what other tender fruits are now finding the English climate congenial.

Joan Morgan