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The fruit is typically in season in the Northern Hemisphere from September to February, and in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May. As intact arils or juice, pomegranates are used in baking, cooking, juice blends, meal garnishes, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages, such as cocktails and wine.
The pomegranate originated in the region of modern-day Iran, and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region and northern India. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and California, by Spanish settlers, in 1769. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Middle East and Caucasus region, north and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, the drier parts of southeast Asia, and parts of the Mediterranean Basin. It is also cultivated in parts of Arizona and California. In the 20th and 21st centuries, it became more common in the commercial markets of Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
A shrub or small tree growing 6 to 10 m (20 to 33 ft) high, the pomegranate has multiple spiny branches and is extremely long-lived, with some specimens in France surviving for 200 years. P. granatum leaves are opposite or subopposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 in) long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red and 3 cm in diameter, with three to seven petals. Some fruitless varieties are grown for the flowers alone.
The edible fruit is a berry, intermediate in size between a lemon and a grapefruit, 5–12 cm (2.0–4.7 in) in diameter with a rounded shape and thick, reddish skin. The number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1400.Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp — the edible sarcotesta that forms from the seed coat — ranging in color from white to deep red or purple. The seeds are "exarillate", i.e., unlike some other species in the order, Myrtales, no aril is present. The sarcotesta of pomegranate seeds consists of epidermis cells derived from the integument. The seeds are embedded in a white, spongy, astringent membrane. Pomegranate juice, obtained by compressing the seeds, causes a deep red stain which is difficult to remove. The pigmentation of pomegranate juice results from the presence of anthocyanins and ellagitannins.