Tamarind is a leguminous tree bearing edible fruit that is probably indigenous to tropical Africa. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic, meaning that it contains only this species. It belongs to the family Fabaceae. The botanical name of tamarind is Tamarindus indica. Tamarind tree is native to Africa and grows like a wild plant in Indian subcontinent. It’s also grown across Southeast Asia, South America and tropical parts of Australia and North America. It is also one of the most popular avenue trees which yield useful fruits and timber besides providing shade. The tree is also grown as an ornamental, and the wood is used in carpentry.
Tamarind is a slow-growing tree. It can survive for more than 300 years. Tamarind leaves are evergreen, like pinnate up to 15 cm long consisting of 10 – 12 pairs of leaflets. Its leaves somewhat looks like acacia leaves. Tamarind flowers are grouped in inflorescence and have five yellow petals with red streaks. Pollination of flowers is entomophilous (pollinated by insects). Tamarind fruits are legumes. Slightly curved, 10 to 15 cm long and have a brown color. Its seeds, 4 to 12 in each pod, make up 34% of the legume and are inserted into a yellowish or brown colored pulp that taste very sour and sweet but pleasant and represents most of the fruit.
Table of Contents
40 - 80 feet
15 - 50 feet
4.5 - 9.0
Growth Nutrition of Tamarind
Mature tamarind trees will usually survive without fertilization as well. However, applying a fertilizer with higher amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus every three months can encourage healthy growth and fruit development.
Types of Tamarind
When it comes to flavor, there are two main types of tamarind:
Sour (the most common) - Used for tamarind paste and other food/ beverage products derived from the fruit.
Sweet (mostly comes from Thailand) - Sold fresh to consumers.
The most favored tamarind varieties include Sweet Tamarind, Manila Tamarind, Spanish Tamarind, Velvet Tamarind and Australian Tamarind.
Tamarind Varieties in India
Some of the most popular varieties include - PKM 1, Urigam, Hasanur,Tumkur Prathisthan, DTS 1, Yogeshwari.
Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball of the plant. Gently remove the plant from the pot and cut dead or damaged roots. Insert the root ball in the hole and fill the soil around root ball to maintain the tree trunk above the soil line. Firm the soil and water the plant thoroughly.
For commercial growers, the planting density is large because of well developed foliage and width tamarind tree needs, the spacing should be around 5 – 15 m, depending more on the variety.
Position For Growing Tamarind Tree
Tamarind prefers tropical and subtropical, dry and windy climate. It can adapt even to the warm temperate climate, but there it’ll not be very productive. Young plants can’t withstand the cold, while the adults are resistant to temperature till 28 degree Fahrenheit only.
Best planting position is in full sun. For flowering, fruit setting and fruit development, tamarind tree needs clear sky and drier days.
How to Grow Tamarind Tree in Cold Climate
Tamarind is a tropical tree, it endures mild winter but growing it outside in colder climate is definitely a bad idea. If you want to grow it, grow tamarind tree in pot and keep it indoors or in a greenhouse during winter. You can also make a beautiful bonsai of tamarind tree.
How to Grow Tamarind Tree from Seed
Soak tamarind seeds overnight in warm water to speed up germination. Sow seeds 1/2 inches deep in good quality seed starting mix. Germination occurs within one or two week after sowing.
*Plants grown from seeds do not go into production before the 6 – 7 years after germination. So it is better to grow tamarind from cutting or buy a plant from nursery if you want quick results.
Tamarind loves full sun and heat.
Tamarind prefers deep loamy soil. It thrives in neutral, gritty, clay, even saline soil type. Soil should be well drained. For growing tamarind you don’t need to care about soil pH level. It grows in pH level around 4.5 – 9.
Water saplings deeply when the first inch of soil is dry to the touch. Once established, tamarind trees don’t need watering and can withstand periods of extreme drought conditions without experiencing adverse effects.
Feed the tamarind plant with organic fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fertilize young trees with 6 – 6 – 3 (N – P – K) fertilizer every 2-3 month during season. Mature trees don’t need fertilizer but can be fertilized occasionally with 8 – 3 – 9 fertilizer to give a boost.
Application of compost and manure should be done too, to reduce the need of fertilizer.
Spread 4 or 5 inches thick layer of mulch around tamarind tree at the beginning of each spring. This helps to protect the roots of the tree, prevents weed and keeps the soil moist, mimicking the effects of a natural forest floor.
Harvesting Tamarind Fruits
Tamarind fruits mature in early summer. They may be left on the tree for as long as 6 months after maturity so that the moisture content will be reduced to 20% or lower. Fruits for immediate processing are often harvested by pulling the pod away from the stalk. The tree begins to bear fruit at the age of 13-14 years and continues to yield abundant crops for more than 60 years. The flowers appear from June and July and the pods ripen in the cold season. The pods should be allowed to ripen on the tree until the outer shell is dry.
Harvesting period :
Mostly the harvesting of tamarind takes place between 1st March to 15th April. Fruits harvested by the pulling pod away from the stalk. The fruits harvested are stored in neat and clean place. The harvested pod should sun dried for getting best pulp. Fruit harvested after 15th April must be stored in refrigeration.
Processing and Grading :
For best price Tamarind should be deseeded. For the deseeding purpose the tamarind requires two-day sundry so that in deseeding process pulp will remain intact. While drying the tamarind for deseeded purpose, the following precaution must be observed. Over drying must be avoided- result loss a colour pigment and flower portion must keep upside. Good quality deseeded defibred Tamarind are called flower tamarind where white portion of tamarind clearly visible. Good quality Tamarind is reddish brown.
A full-grown tree yields 180-225 kg of fruit per season.
Pruning and Propagation
Prune your tamarind tree regularly to control its growth and maintain its shape. Remove dead and damaged wood from the plant.
Tamarind is propagated by seeds, grafting, cuttings and air layering. Seeds are viable for many months.
Common method of propagation in vogue is by seed. However, being heterozygtes, it does not breed true to type through seed. The prolonged juvenile phase is also due to predominance of seed propogation. Seedlings Trees about 15-20 years for economic yields. Vegetatively propagated plants start yielding after 3-4 years. Vegetative methods such as approach grafting, air layering and budding have been successful. However, layers are suitable for planting under dryland conditions for lack of deep growing tap root system. In order to obtain true to type plants with reduced pre-bearing age, uniform growth and yield vegetative methods like budding and grafting be used in establishing Tamarind orchards.
Pests and Diseases
The tamarind tree is seldom affected by pests and diseases. Ripe fruit in humid climates is readily attacked by beetles and fungi, so mature fruit should be harvested and stored. The most serious pests of the tamarind are scale insects (Aonidiella orientalis, Aspidiotus destructor and Saisetia oleae), mealy-bugs (Nipaecoccus viridis and Planococcus lilacinus), and seed beetles. Tamarind pods are attacked by the bruchid beetle Caryedon (Pachymerus) serratus or C. gonagra ). Diseases, reported from India, include leaf spot, powdery mildews, a sooty mould, stem disease, stem, root and wood rot, stem canker, a bark parasite and a bacterial leaf-spot (ICRAF; ECHO).
Benefits of Tamarind
Helps in weight loss
Tamarind is rich in fibre and has no fat content. Studies suggest that eating tamarind daily might actually help in weight reduction since it contains flavonoids and polyphenols. Also, tamarind is loaded with hydroxycitric acid, which reduces your appetite by inhibiting amylase, an enzyme responsible for converting carbohydrate into fat.
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are necessary for the body to grow and repair tissues. Some amino acids are essential, meaning that the body can't synthesize them, so people must get them from food. Tamarind contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids except tryptophan. It meets the standards of the World Health Organization for an ideal protein for the other amino acids. Researchers are unsure, however, how well the body can absorb all the nutrients found in tamarind.
Prevents peptic ulcers
Peptic ulcers can be very painful. These are basically sores that appear in the inner lining of the stomach and small intestine. Thanks to the polyphenolic compounds found in tamarind, this fruit can prevent these ulcers.
Cancer Risk Reduction
Scientists recommend a diet high in antioxidants for many reasons, one of them being a reduction in the risk of cancer. Antioxidants can prevent free radicals from damaging cell DNA. Scientists believe that many cancers begin with harm to DNA. Phytochemicals found in plants have antioxidant qualities. Tamarind is rich in several phytochemicals, including beta-carotene.
People who get enough magnesium in their diets have better bone density than those who are deficient. Many people, especially teens and those over 70, do not get adequate magnesium. Tamarind is a rich source of magnesium. It also contains more calcium than many plant foods. The combination of these two minerals, plus weight-bearing exercise, could help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. The body requires vitamin D to use calcium. Tamarind is not a significant source of vitamin D, so you will need to get it from other sources.
Effective in managing diabetes
Tamarind seed extracts are anti-inflammatory in nature and they are even said to stabilize blood sugar levels and reverse the damage of the pancreatic tissue in those suffering from diabetes. The enzyme alpha-amylase which is proven to reduce blood sugar levels can also be found in tamarind.
Treats hair conditions
Tamarind, if used in a hair pack, can effectively check hairfall and promote growth of hair. Tamarind pulp has been used extensively to help reduce sebum production in the scalp, thus controlling dandruff and hair loss.
Helps with digestion
Tamarind has been used since ancient times as a laxative because of its tartaric acid, malic acid, and potassium content. Its ability to relax abdominal muscles is why it is also used as a remedy for diarrhoea. So, while the fruit is used to relieve constipation, the leaves provide treatment from diarrhoea, and the root and bark can be consumed to alleviate abdominal pain.
Aids a healthy heart
Tamarind is a very heart-friendly fruit. Flavonoids present in tamarind lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, thus preventing the build-up of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood. It also has high potassium content which can help keep your blood pressure in check.
Takes care of your liver
It turns out that tamarind can take care of your liver as well. A diet rich in calories leads to a fatty liver and studies suggest that daily consumption of tamarind extracts can reverse this condition.
It can help you deal with allergies
It is an effective way to deal with allergic asthma and cough because of its antihistaminic properties. It’s also a rich source of vitamin C and can boost the immune system to prevent cold and cough.
1. Tamarind Pulp
The fruit pulp of tamarind is edible. However, the green pulp of a young fruit may be too sour. Therefore, people often use it as an ingredient in dishes. It is a natural pickling agent. The matured fruit is sweeter and less sour. Thus, the ripened fruit is tastier. In Western cuisine, people use its pulp in Worcestershire Sauce.
2. Tamarind Paste
Tamarind paste has many culinary uses. For example, it is a flavouring agent for chutneys, curries, and the traditional sharbat drink. Its sweet chutney is prevalent in many South Asian countries. People use it as a dressing for many snacks and salads. It is also an essential flavouring agent in dishes and rice. Also, South Indian cuisine uses it hugely.
3. Creating Dishes
Across the Middle East and the Mediterranean, meat-based stews are combined with dried tamarind to attain a sweet-sour tang. In the Philippines, the whole fruit goes in the traditional dish called sinigang. Indonesia also has a tamarind-based soup dish called Sayur asem.
The pulp in Mexico and the Caribbean is diluted with water and sweetened to prepare an agua fresca drink.
5. Medicinal Uses
Across Southeast Asia, people apply tamarind paste on foreheads to reduce body temperature in fever. It has a laxative effect as well. It also contains malic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium bitartrate: these cure constipation and digestive disorders.
6. Carpentry and Woodcraft
Artisans use tamarind timber in furniture, carvings, wood crafts, chopping blocks, and decorative wood products. Its heartwood is reddish-brown. Heartwood is decay and mite resistant and durable. Due to its density and interlocked structure, it is considered stiff. It imparts an excellent finish with natural aesthetics for the products.
7. Metal Polishing Scrub
People use the tamarind fruit pulp to polish brass and copper statues, utensils, and lamps in homes and temples. It has tartaric acid, a mild acid that removes the coat of copper carbonate and retains the metallic shine. Hence, people use it to scrub tarnished copper utensils.
8. Horticulture and Gardening
Across the tropical region and SouthEast Asia, tamarind trees are grown as ornamental, food and cash crops. It is ornamental as a bonsai species.