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Tamarindus indica - L.

Common Name Tamarind
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Low-altitude woodland, savannah and bush, often associated with termite mounds. Prefers semi-arid areas and wooded grassland, and can also be found growing along stream and riverbanks[303 ].
Range Probably originating in tropical Africa, it is now widespread through the tropics and subtropics.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Tamarindus indica Tamarind

Tamarindus indica Tamarind


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Tamarindus indica, otherwise known as Tamarind, is a leguminous tree native to tropical Africa. It is the sole species in the Tamarindus genus and is long-lived. It grows up to 30 m tall and 1-2 m in trunk diameter. It has a dense, spreading, irregularly shaped crown and a short trunk. The bark is rough and gray with checkered pattern. The flowers are fragrant, red and yellow, and elongated. The leaves are evergreen, arranged alternately, pinnately compound, bright green, and elliptical ovular in shape. The fruits are indehiscent brown pods with fleshy pulp, each pod containing one to six glossy brown and somewhat flat seeds. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Mature seeds are dried then toasted or boiled. It can also be ground into flour or roasted as substitute to coffee. Young leaves and flowers are also edible raw or cooked. Tamarind also functions as a medicinal plant. It is used for sores, ulcers, boils, rashes, asthma, amenorrhea, rheumatism, wounds, throat infection, cough, fevers, intestinal worms, conjunctivitis, sprains, measles, urinary problems, scurvy, diarrhea, and dysentery. The seeds are sources of pectin that can be used for sizing textiles. When ground, boiled, and mixed with gum, the seeds produce a strong wood cement. Seed oil is used for paints and varnishes. Fruit pulp, on the other hand, when mixed with sea salt, is used to polish silver, copper, and brass. The leaves yield a red dye. The wood is used for general carpentry, sugar mills, wheels, hubs, wooden utensils, agricultural tools, furniture, etc. It is also ideal for fuel and charcoal. The plant is grown by seeds or cuttings. Growth rate is slow.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Tamarindus indica is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Tamarindus occidentalis Gaertn. Tamarindus officinalis Hook. Tamarindus umbrosa Salisb.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses: Coffee  Drink

Seedpod - raw or cooked. An acid flavour[398 ]. Harvested when fully grown but still green and tender, they are used as a seasoning and also to make juices and paste[296 ]. The immature pods are used in a variety of ways, being eaten fresh mixed with spices, pickled like green mango, or added whole to soups, stews and sauces[301 ]. The pods are 5 - 15cm long[302 ]. When fully mature, the pods contain a sticky paste which can be eaten raw , used to make drinks, jellies, syrups etc, and, mixed with salt, is a favourite flavouring in the curries of India[296 , 301 , 303 ]. This paste is usually quite sour due to its content of tartaric, acetic and citric acids[307 ], though sweet forms can also be found[298 ]. The sweet-fruited forms are considered a delicacy and are eaten raw[301 ]. Mixed with water, the pulp makes a pleasant lemonade-like drink[298 ]. Mature seeds - dried then toasted or boiled and the shell is removed[298 ]. The seed can be ground into a flour[298 ]. The roasted seed is also used as a coffee substitute[301 ]. Young leaves - raw or cooked. An agreeably sour flavour, they go well cooked with other blander leaves[298 ]. Young leaves can be added to salads[298 , 301 ]. Seedlings, when about 30cm tall, are used as a vegetable[301 ]. Flowers - raw in salads or cooked[298 , 301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiasthmatic  Antidiarrhoeal  Antirheumatic  Aperient  Astringent  Cardiac  Digestive  Dysentery  
Febrifuge  Hypoglycaemic  Laxative  Malaria  Ophthalmic  Parasiticide  Poultice  
Refrigerant  Tonic  Urinary

The bark is astringent and tonic and its ash may be given internally as a digestive. Incorporated into lotions or poultices, the bark may be used to relives sores, ulcers, boils and rashes. It may also be administered as a decoction against asthma and amenorrhea and as a febrifuge[303 ]. Leaf extracts exhibit anti-oxidant activity in the liver, and are a common ingredient in cardiac and blood sugar reducing medicines[303 ]. Young leaves may be used in fomentation for rheumatism, applied to sores and wounds, or administered as a poultice for inflammation of joints to reduce swelling and relieve pain[303 ]. A sweetened decoction of the leaves is good against throat infection, cough, fever, and even intestinal worms[303 ]. The filtered hot juice of young leaves, and a poultice of the flowers, is used for conjunctivitis[303 ]. The leaves are warmed and tied to affected areas in order to relieve swellings and pains, particularly sprains[348 ]. They are also used for bathing sores or to bathe persons suffering from measles or allergies[348 ]. The leaves and flowers are used to make a sweetened tea that is drunk by children as a remedy for measles[348 ]. They were also used in a preparation which was drunk in early Guyana as a malaria remedy[348 ]. A decoction of the flower buds is used as a remedy for children's bedwetting and urinary complaints[348 ]. The fruit is aperient and laxative[348 ]. A syrup made from the ripe fruit is drunk in order to keep the digestive organs in good condition, and also as a remedy for coughs and chest colds[348 ]. The flesh of the fruit is eaten to cure fevers and control gastric acid[348 ]. The fruit pulp may be used as a massage to treat rheumatism, as an acid refrigerant, a mild laxative and also to treat scurvy[303 ]. Powdered seeds may be given to cure dysentery and diarrhoea[303 ]. The plant contains pyrazines and thiazoles[348 ]. The seed contains polyoses[348 ]. The bark yields proanthocyanidin and hordenine[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Adhesive  Charcoal  Dye  Fodder  Fodder  Fuel  Furniture  Ink  Lighting  Paint  Parasiticide  Plant support  Polish  Shelterbelt  Tannin  Varnish  Wood

Seaside. Large shade tree. Street tree. Public open space. Bonsai. Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: Tamarind is not very compatible with other plants because of its dense shade, broad spreading crown and allelopathic effects. It has been tested as an agroforestry species in India but although the reduction in crop yield is less than that with species such as teak, the spreading crown makes it little compatible with other species[303 , 325 ]. The dense shade makes it more suitable for firebreaks as no grass will grow under the trees[303 , 325 ]. The deep roots make it very resistant to storms and suitable for windbreaks[325 ]. Other Uses The pulp of the fruit, sometimes mixed with sea-salt, is used to polish silver, copper and brass[303 ]. It is normally used when the pulp is over-ripe[307 ]. The seed contains pectin that can be used for sizing textiles[303 ]. Ground, boiled, and mixed with gum, the seeds produce a strong wood cement[303 ]. An amber coloured seed oil - which resembles linseed oil - is suitable for making paints and varnishes and for burning in lamps[303 ]. Both leaves and bark are rich in tannin. The bark tannins can be used in ink or for fixing dyes[303 ]. The leaves yield a red dye, which is used to give a yellow tint to clothe previously dyed with indigo[303 ]. Sapwood is light yellow, heartwood is dark purplish brown; very hard, durable and strong (specific gravity 0.8-0.9g/cubic m), and takes a fine polish. It is used for general carpentry, sugar mills, wheels, hubs, wooden utensils, agricultural tools, mortars, boat planks, toys, panels and furniture. In North America, tamarind wood has been traded under the name of 'Madeira mahogany'[303 ]. Provides a good firewood with the calorific value of 4 850 kcal/kg, it also produces an excellent charcoal[303 , 598 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Fodder: Bank  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

Tamarind grows best in drier areas of the tropics, though it can also do well in much wetter, monsoon areas so long as there is a distinct dry season. It is found at elevations up to 1,500 metres[298 , 325 , 418 , 774 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 35°c, but can tolerate 12 - 45°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -3°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[418 ]. The plant is very sensitive to frost[325 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 300 - 4,500mm[418 ]. In India, it is not grown commercially in areas receiving more than 1,900mm of rain a year and in the wet tropics, with over 4,000 mm of rain, flowering and fruit setting is significantly reduced[325 ]. Regardless of total annual rainfall, a long, well-marked dry season is necessary for fruiting[303 ]. Plants succeed in a range of soils, though they prefer a well-drained, fertile soil in a sunny position[302 , 307 ]. Often found near the coast and in sandy soils, which suggests it is tolerant of saline conditions[298 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 8.5[418 ]. Plants have an extensive root system, which makes them very tolerant of windy conditions (including salt-laden winds) and drought[200 , 303 , 307 ]. Growth is generally slow; seedling height increasing by about 60cm annually[303 ]. Trees commence bearing fruit at 7 - 10 years of age, with maximum yields being obtained from about 15 years onwards[303 ]. Trees can continue yielding for 200 years[325 , 774 ]. Yields of 200 kilos per tree have been recorded[200 ]. There are many named forms[298 ]. The trees respond to coppicing and pollarding[303 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200 ]. Flowering Time: Mid Winter. Bloom Color: Rose/Mauve Pale Yellow. Spacing: 4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m).

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Plants to physically support other crops.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - when dried, it retains viability for several years at ambient temperatures[325 ]. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in a nursery seedbed or containers at 21°c[200 ]. About 90% germination is achieved in 40 - 50 days[303 ]. Germination is best when seeds are covered by 1.5 cm loose, sandy loam or by a mixture of loam and sand[303 ]. The seedlings quickly develop a taproot and so should not be allowed to grow in a nursery seedbed for more than 4 months before being transplanted into containers[325 ]. Seedlings should attain at least 80 cm before being transplanted to their final location at the beginning of the rainy season[303 ]. They can be planted out when 30cm tall[325 ]. Cuttings of greenwood Air layering Grafting.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Ai-sucaer, Ambli, Amilam, Amlam, Amli, Ampil tum, Ampul, Amyli, Apaderu, Asam jawa, Asam, Assam, Bak kaam som, Bak kaam, Bosey, Bwenba, Chicha, Chinch, Chincha, Chintachettu, Chintapandu, Chintha, Chwa, Chwaa, Cwa, Cwao, Emli, Epedura, Epeduru, Huli, Imbli, Imlee, Imli, Indian date, Jajo dari, Kailemu, Katara, Konya, Kore, Ma-gyi-thi, Maak kaam, Magvi, Maihang, Mak kham, Makam, Mal kham, Mangge, Mboulam, Me, Mkwaju, Mkwazu, Mkwesu, Moya, Msisi, Mukoge, Nkwesu, Olmasambrai, Pulee, Puli, Qiubi-aiazeng, Raqay, Rooqa, Sampalok, Sintachettu, Siyambala, Som ma kham, Tamar, Tamarindo, Tamarini, Tamarino, Tangkal asam, Tate amilo, Teng-te-re, Tentul, Tentuli, Teteli, Tetul, Tetuli, Theipai, Tintri, Tsamia, Wit asem, Yod kaam, a-diur, a-ngvalam, aanvilam, aganat, aganate, ajagbon, am-bamp-a-potho, ambli, ambran, amlam, amli, amlika, an-thombi, anbli, anvali, ardeib, ardeiba, ardèb, be dahar, bengal, bochocho, bosogna, bse-yab, bu dahar, bupuguibu, chinch, chincha, chint, chinta, cinca, ciñca (fruit pulp), dabe, dahar, dahi, dakah, dakar, dakhar, dakkar, dam, dama, dami, dangareza, daxar, diabbi, diabe, diabé, diadmi, diahbe, diahmi, diam, diami, diammi, diko, djabe, djammi, djévivi, domi, epui, fisika, getabe, gundagura, gunsa, gunsure jatami, haa, hafanat, haganat, haganay, haralle, hardèb, her, hesuga, hunisemale, imali, imli, indian date, indian tamarind, inénef, isob, jabbi, jabeh, jami, jamme, jammeh, jammi, jatami, jetabe, jojo, kadiri, kadéé, kara, karèd, keditia, kharalle, kharalli, kily, kilytree, kissama, koina, kurumogbe, kussanga, lallewa, lototuwa, madeira mahogany, maden-deli, madiro, maha-siyambala, man tumbi, maspam, massepame, mbisisi, mkwaju, mkwayo, mshishi, musika, ndahar, ngetabi, njabbi, njami, njammi, ntombi, ntomi, ntoni, nydirre, nyimano, ol massamburai, omlika, pesuga, pousga, puhuvale, pukuga, puli, pulé, puro, pusga, pusiga, roka, s'aamaikuu, s'aamiiyaa, s'aamiyooyii, samanga, samia, samiya, sawa-tombla, siyambala, slim, sob, sour tumbler, suan dou, suan jiao, ta, taamerese, tagana, tamabarino, tamaleni, tamani, tamar, tamar al hind, tamar hindi, tamar-u?l-hind, tamarand, tamare, tamaren, tamarese, tamarin, tamarin des bas, tamarind, tamarind tree, tamarinda, tamarinde, tamarindeiro, tamarindenbaum, tamarindier, tamarindo, tamarindo, fruto, tamarindo-do-egito, tamarindorum pulpa, tamarindorum pulpa cruda, tamarindorum pulpa depurata, tamarind|siyambala, tamarinho, tamarinier, tamarinier des bas, tamarino, tambarina, tambarinho, tamerine, tamr as sudan, tamr hindi, tamsugu, tamzu, tate amilo, tchmia, tembe, tendelim tentul, tetara, teteli, tetor, tetula, timbang, timbimb, timbing, tinti?ika, tiob, titari, titis paun, tombi, tombigi, tombigui, tomi, tsamia, tsamiya, tsamyia, tumbi, tumbin, tumbingui, tumi, tumni, tunjamjam, támparanu, tâmara-da-índia, udeguegor, ukwaju, ukwayu, vèrvèr, yammere, yetabere, yevu-tsitoe.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Madagascar; Benin; Togo; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Mali; Mozambique; Niger; Nigeria; Sao Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Uganda; Morocco?, Africa, Andamans, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Arabia, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Central America, Chad, China, Colombia, Congo, Congo R, Cook islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Guiana, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Himalayas, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marianas, Martinique, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Oman, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Sahel, Sao Tome, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sikkim, Socotra, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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