Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Trees.

PIJ #48, Sep – Nov 1993

The graceful tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) is believed to have originated in Africa and is now cultivated in many parts of the tropical world. Although in the legume family, it does not fix nitrogen; however, its many attractive qualities make it a splendid addition to the large permaculture garden. It is one of the most useful of tropical trees – for shelter, shade, food firebreaks, fuel wood, forage, fodder, bee food and mulch. Leaves, flowers and immature pods are eaten as vegetables, while these items plus the bark and roots have medicinal properties.

Also of high ornamental value, this semi-evergreen dome-shaped tree has graceful weeping branches that almost touch the ground. It can grow to 25m in height and 7.5 m trunk circumference on rich deep soils and live for hundreds of years. The leaves, which form the dense ferny foliage, are 7.5 – 15 cm long with leaflets in 10 – 12 pairs. The flowers which are yellow striped with red are held in a raceme.

Cultivation and Propagation

The tamarind needs a dry season to prosper and has great drought resistance – it is ideal for semi-arid regions (but may require some irrigation). It will recover from frosts if protected when young, greater cold tolerance developing with age. Tropical conditions are preferred. It prefers to grow on its own, being not very compatible with other trees. It tolerates most soils, as long as they are free draining.

Propagation is by means of seeds, which retain viability many months when kept dry. Seedling trees are slow to bear fruit; however, young trees can be shield-budded for more precocious bearing. A mature tree can bear about 160kg (350lb) of fruit annually.

Harvesting Fruit

The pods are harvested when mature, that is, when coloured cinnamon-brown. In many tropical countries they have been an important item of export, thanks to their long shelf life. The pulp is generally stripped from the shell and pressed into large cakes, seeds and all. These used to be packed for shipment on sacks made from palm leaves.

Timber Qualities

Tamarind timber is prized for its strength and termite resistance. It has a beautiful grain, yellow with red streaks, and is hard and durable. Furniture made from this tree indicated wealth in ancient Sri Lanka, where it was used to make rice pounders, mortars, side planks for boat wheels, axles and naves.

Fruit uses

Tamarind fruit pulp is found in the pea-like pods (up to 15cm long by 2.5cm across) surrounding one to twelve seeds. It is highly acid, contains 30% – 40% sugar and has high vitamin C and excellent keeping qualities. It is used extensively in Indian cooking to enrich the taste of savoury dishes (especially with meat). It is a popular ingredient in curries, chutneys, preserves and refreshing drinks. The acidic pulp is also used to clean silverware.

The fruit is acclaimed for its medicinal uses, either eaten straight, infused into tea, or added to decoctions or poultices. Its medicinal actions are refrigerant (useful for fevers), digestive (and helpful for deranged bile), carminative, laxative and antiscorbutic. The seeds are also used medicinally, ground up and made into a paste with cold water for applying to boils.

Leaf Uses

Leaves are eaten as a vegetable and are also used medicinally. Leaf juice is good for bilious fevers, urinary disorders and jaundice. A fresh leaf poultice is applied locally over swellings of ankles and joints, sprains, boils, sore eyes and scabies. Dried leaves powdered can be dusted over ulcers. The leaves yield a fixed dye which colours woollens red.

With its multiple products and functions the tamarind is excellent in larger permaculture gardens in warm areas.

36 Responses to “Tamarind Tree”

  1. Chris Murphy

    I have a healthy tamarind tree in my front yard in Mareeba far north Qld. If anyone wants tamarinds for free please let me know on this website.

    Updated by editor on 14 May 2010: Chris tells us this offer has now ended. Thank you all.

    Reply
  2. Delmy

    I would like to have a free tree, how do I go about it. thank you for the info it was great

    Reply
  3. Roxanne Stanton

    Chris,

    Thank you for this information regarding tamarind trees. I would be very interested in any help you could provide as to acquiring tamarind seedling or seeds for my backyard. Look forward to your reply.

    Regards

    Roxanne

    Reply
  4. Tina

    I would love to get free tamarind seedlings of any info where to get these trees.
    regards
    Tina

    Reply
  5. Rob

    Hey Tina just go buy some tamarind pulp with seeds from any Asian type grocer then dry out seeds and plant thats all I did and I now have three healthy seedlings Best of luck….Rob

    Reply
  6. Roxanne Stanton

    Chris,

    Yes I would be interested in getting hold of some free tamarind tree seedlings. How do I go about receiving them?

    Roxanne

    Reply
  7. john forrest

    100s of free seedlings?
    will these trees be another weed in 50 years?
    John

    Reply
  8. Geoff Lawton

    In 50 years time we will have much more understanding and an appreciation of life in general and we will have evolved beyond a weed prejudice view point.

    Reply
  9. Rama Cherupalli

    Hi Tamarind lovers, I am also a tamarind lover and would love and die for the leaves curry and chutney!! However I don’t know where these trees are in Australia. Just to let you know I am residing in Sydney, so any help from any one on where can I find these trees to take out some leaves, would be a great help. I can be contacted on cherupalli at hotmail dot com. Thanks & Regards, Rama Cherupalli.

    Reply
  10. Rama Cherupalli

    Chris, would it be possible for me to get some premature leaves from you? I can pay you for that so please contact me on cherupalli at hotmail dot com. Thanks Chris, Rama Cherupalli.

    Reply
  11. Jan

    Chris, I live on the Sunshine Coast but am ex Cairns and miss the Tamarinds. If you have any of the fruit spare I would love to get some down here. Can you contact me. Thank you

    Reply
  12. George Goring

    For those in the Brisbane area, there is a stand of tamarind trees on the northern footpath of Dornoch Terrace, between Boundary St. and Hardgrave Rd. West End.

    I believe they ripen late spring.

    The footpath is public property and I’ve yet to know anybody objecting to the free harvest.

    Help yourself and pass on the info.

    Reply
  13. Brenda

    If anybody know where I can buy tamarind pods from in
    Australia please let me know. I am desperate to be able to get a hold of them again. I haven’t had any since I lived at Slade Point in the 70’s

    Reply
  14. Adi

    Hi Chris,

    I am pregnant and i have cravings for tamarind baby leaves.I live in Sydney.Is it possible can i get some leaves.I am not sure of the season for fruit.

    I am not able to find them anywhere.

    Reply
  15. s.pradeep

    100’s of tamarind tree crop sale for this year, we ever wants to take contact call: 9177940288
    MahabubNagar Dist-Andhra Pradesh

    Reply
  16. Elijah

    Hi I’m pregnant and I’ve been craving for sour stuff like tamarinds, I tried to look at the local Asian shops in Gold Coast but I haven’t found any, would I be able to get some and pay you and hopefully I can grow one in my backyard..thanks heaps!

    Reply
  17. Garry

    I have had tamarind paste in my fridge for at least 4 years. I recently decided to chuck it but wondered what would happen if I planted some seeds. Well I now have one beautiful seedling from 8 seeds planted. I’m stunned. Four years in a fridge and still viable. Maybe others can try this?

    Reply
  18. Carmen Lydia

    I have been informed that the tamarind leafs are very good for people who suffer from asma. Right now I’m preparing a cup of tea from the tamarind leafs for my asma.

    Reply
  19. Carmen Lydia

    For people who suffer from asma bring the leaves to boil as you would any tea and drink it with sugar or honey.

    Reply
  20. Rob Edmonstone

    I have a Tamarind tree which is about 10 years old and was growing well until a few months ago. It has slowly started to drop it’s leaves leaving the branch dry and dead looking. it has started on one side and is now doing the same to the centre branches. The tree is still holding the pods from the last season which was plentiful. I live the tropics so as cold weather is out of the question I am wondering if there is a disease these trees are subject to and if there is a way of saving this tree before it dies completely?
    PS. There are numerous trees in this area and all are looking healthy.

    Reply
  21. sivakumar

    i want to plant tamarind tree in my own lands in tamilnadu where can i get the best plants near tamil nadu or in andra pradesh

    Reply
  22. Seb Hardy

    There’s a tamarind tree in mareeba by the botanical lake… tried it (never heard of it until then), definitely an acquired taste

    Reply
  23. Monique

    Ifound out that the tamarind has something to do with cambogia garcinia,I want to know if I plant the seed from tamarind will it grow garcinia cambogia? I live in the state of Georgia will it grow here? I am trying to loose weight I purchased the garcinia cambogia then I purchased the tamarind can I use them both to loose weight?How much will it cost me to purchase some real garcina cambogia?

    Reply
  24. Muhammad Iqbal Jamali

    I grow a Tamarind tree since last 30 years but it does not give fruit still neither bloom its buds how what reasons behind it.

    Reply

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