Tamarindus indica

Botanical Name: Tamarindus indica L.


Common Name:        Tamarind

Plant Family:              Caesalpinoideae

Origin:                           Probably Africa and the Far East

References:                 Coates Palgrave p.330, Storrs 1 p.193-194, van Wyk 1 p.426. S.A. No. 206,1, Zimb. No. 258

Description:  A medium to large evergreen tree, usually found in riverine areas and on termite mounds at low altitude. It has a pale, rough bark and spreading, drooping branches. The leaves are grey-green and compound with alternate leaflets. The flowers are pale yellow or pinkish small spikes. The fruit is a rusty-brown, curved, velvety pod with constrictions between the seed. The seeds are held within a sweet tasting, sticky pulp.

Features of Particular Interest:  Fruit.

Height and Spread:  20-25m high, 5-10m spread.

Periods of Interest:

Leaf:  All year round.

Flowering:  November to March.

Fruiting:  June to August.


Soil and Moisture:  Prefers heavier, fertile soils. Plant seedlings out in full sun with regular watering.

Aspect:  Well adapted to a variety of different habitat sites.

Hardiness:  Tolerant of cold and dry conditions when established.

Maintenance and Pruning:  No special requirements.

Propagation:  Place seed under a thin covering of planting medium and water regularly.

Problems and Drawbacks:  Germination and initial growth can be difficult but hardy once established.

Use and Associated Planting:  One of Africa’s most important indigenous fruit trees. The pods are much favored by a whole gamut of birds and animals from parrots to baboons and elephants, and by humans. There is evidence of Tamarinds were traded throughout the old world from 400BC as a form of date and condiment. It is now grown commercially as an export fruit in the West Indies and India.