The Pomegranate Tree of Poplar Grove Plantation

The pomegranate tree pictured above is growing just north of Wilmington, NC at the Poplar Grove plantation. The ripening of the pomegranate is a mark of the season changing.

The greek goddess Demeter had a daughter Persephone who was kidnapped by Hades king of the underworld. Demeter was the goddess of growth and death of the earth’s vegetation. When Persephone was kidnapped, Demeter went in to great mourning and refused to nourish the earth. Man and beast were starving……

Zeus got tired and weary of the whole ordeal and rescued Persephone….but just before she was rescued…

Persephone was tricked in to eating the delicious pomegranate.

It was known in this Greek mythology setting that when one eats of anything while in the underground world…….they must remain there.

Hades agreeing that Persephone had suffered the same as her mother—would only have to stay in the underworld for 2/3 of the year. So for 8 months of year Persephone was with Demeter and the other 4 with Hades. Demeter was not a forgiving person and denied the earth any vegetation for those 4 months that her daughter was away—thus bringing on the season of changes.

Previous to Persephone being abducted, the earth flourished 12 months of the year.

One pomegranate tree grows at the plantation of Poplar Grove in Wilmington, NC. There is much written about this peanut plantation but very little about its exotic little tree that originally only grew in the Mediterranean climates. Abundant in Iran and India it can grow to 30 feet tall depending on variety.

James Foy bought the plantation in 1795. He was known as a wise and good man. He was a first to allow his slaves to be tenant farmers. They were allowed to save money and be educated. They took pride in their jobs as much as one could under the circumstances and the plantation flourished.

The peanuts were taken by boat to the port at Wilmington where they were shipped north and other more distant lands. I can see how James Foy could have acquired the seeds or fruit from one of these trips. The seeds germinate easily even when scattered on top of the soil.

Wilmington does get some freezing temps at times but this little tree is protected by the house and thus is probably growing in a microclimate. The zone for Wilmington is 8a which hovers right at 14 degrees but like I said….it can get much colder.

It is possible for this tree to survive as longevity  is one of its attributes. Charming to think it could survive through hurricanes and such.

More than 500 varieties exist. It can withstand temperatures to 14 degrees fahrenheit. From flower to fruit is approximately 7 months. Its medicinal uses are many from treating stomach upsets to curing cancers.

It has even been associated with the coming of age for a woman from one interpretation of the greek mythological story of Demeter and Persephone. Those in that audience think Persephone’s abduction and love affair with Hades is the beginning of womanhood.

Fascinating information on the pomegranate and its many uses. But….I’ve never had one 😉

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Anna,

    May we have your permission to put this on our web? Please look at
    and let me know what you think. Everyone here absolutely loves your post.



    1. I would be honored Jeanne and am so happy all the staff has seen this article. I sure enjoyed my visit to the plantation and do have much more to write. Thank you and yes-please do share.


  2. Anna,

    What a beautiful post about the pomengranate, mythology and Poplar Grove. Great picture taking as well. Thank you so much.

    Jeanne Walker
    Poplar Grove Plantation


  3. MNGarden says:

    They are in produce sections of your grocer now.


  4. Sylvia (England) says:

    Anna, this is a lovely post. You have managed to achieve so much, stunning pictures, Greek mythology, a bit of history and information about an interesting fruit tree. I remember being given pomegranate as a child, I didn’t really enjoy them so I don’t think I would want to grow this tree but I enjoyed the stories that go with it.

    Thank you and best wishes Sylvia (England)


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