Biologist scholar promotes varieties of pomegranates

Not many Americans regularly reach for a pomegranate. If they find them, there's usually just one variety. John Chater, a post-doctorate scholar studying pomegranate cultivars at the University of California, Riverside: "The average American has less than one pomegranate a year."

Chater wants to change how Americans think about the pomegranate. Specifically, he wants to introduce pomegranates that vary in flavor and color and make them more mainstream. His grandfather, S. John Chater, grew a few types of pomegranates just for fun from seeds brought over from Lebanon.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Plant Germplasm System, that studies the seeds and tissues of crops to safeguard diversity and support agricultural production, is interested in pomegranates because they are drought and salt tolerant. They can thrive where other fruits cannot, plus they are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

Along with his colleagues at UC Riverside, Chater is growing 13 varieties of edible pomegranates, including Parfianka, a red-skinned type with sweet pink seeds that taste like wine; Golden Globes, which are yellowish with a soft aril; and of course, the familiar red, sweet-tart Wonderful. According to, he is studying how consumers perceive the varieties' flavors and colors, and whether they'd appeal to growers under different climate conditions.

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