1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Genus: Tamarindus Tourn. ex L.
      1. Tamarindus indica L.

        Tamarind fruits were traded widely in ancient times. Records from the eastern Mediterranean show Tamarindus indica was already in cultivation there in the fourth century B.C. On encountering the fruit in western India, Arab sea-traders thought the sticky black pulp and seeds of the fruit resembled their native date palm, so they combined their common name for date palm 'Tamr', along with the Arabic name for India ('hindi'), to arrive at the common name tamrhindi on which the scientific name Tamarindus is based.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    From the sausage-shaped fruits of the tamarind tree comes the sticky acidic pulp that has been used as a food ingredient for thousands of years.

    Tamarind fruits were traded widely in ancient times. Records from the eastern Mediterranean show Tamarindus indica was already in cultivation there in the fourth century B.C. On encountering the fruit in western India, Arab sea-traders thought the sticky black pulp and seeds of the fruit resembled their native date palm, so they combined their common name for date palm 'Tamr', along with the Arabic name for India ('hindi'), to arrive at the common name tamrhindi on which the scientific name Tamarindus is based.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    The origin of tamarind is uncertain as it has been widely cultivated since ancient times. It is apparently native to tropical Africa and Madagascar but is found throughout the tropics. In some areas where it was originally cultivated, it has now run wild (it is naturalised).

    Description

    Overview: A tree up to 30 m tall with a spreading crown of up to 12 m in diameter.

    Leaves:The leaves are up to 15 cm long and are composed of numerous small leaflets, which close at night, arranged in pairs along a central axis.

    Flowers: The flowers are about 2.5 cm across and have three petals that are golden with a pattern of red veins as well as two tiny thread-like petals that are barely visible. The flowers are borne on inflorescences up to about 20 cm long.

    Fruits: The brown, short-haired, sausage-like fruits contain an acidic pulp which is a much-prized ingredient of confectioneries, curries and pickles.

    Threats and conservation

    This widely distributed species is not currently of conservation concern.

    Uses

    From the sausage-shaped fruits of the tamarind tree comes the sticky acidic pulp that has been used as a food ingredient for thousands of years. The pulp was traded widely in ancient times leading to the extensive use and cultivation of tamarind, which in turn has resulted in the widespread tropical distribution of this species.

    The edible fruits, and especially the pulp, can be eaten raw or used as an ingredient in curries, pickles, confectionery and in fermented drinks. The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. Tamarind wood is used as timber, firewood and for charcoal. Other uses of the species include medicines, dyes and for planting as an ornamental.

    Cultivation

    Tamarindus indica is propagated at Kew using semi-ripe apical or internodal cuttings. Initially these are placed in a misting unit where there is bottom heat and frequent fogging. When rooting has occurred successfully, the plants are potted up into a loam-based or organic compost. They are then placed in a zone where the temperature is maintained at 18 to 28 ˚C. The watering regime keeps the substrate constantly moist but not soggy.

    This species is subject to mealy bug, which is removed physically whenever possible. It is hoped that tamarind could be used as a host for the parasite sandalwood in future growth experiments in the Tropical Nursery.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Search Kew's Seed Information Database for further details on Tamarindus indica seeds

    Tamarind at Kew

    A tamarind from Ethiopia can be seen in Kew's Palm House.

    There are also specimens of Tamarindus indica in the Tropical Nursery, one of the behind-the-scenes areas of the Gardens.

    Distribution
    Madagascar
    Ecology
    Tropical seasonally dry forest, woodland and wooded grassland, often found along rivers.
    Conservation
    This widely distributed species is not currently of conservation concern.
    Hazards

    Flour from the ground seeds can cause asthma and contact dermatitis.

    [FZ]

    Leguminosae, R.K. Brummitt, A.C. Chikuni, J.M. Lock and R.M. Polhill. Flora Zambesiaca 3:2. 2007

    Habit
    Tree to 25 m; crown rounded; bark rough, grey or grey-black.
    Branches
    Young branchlets pubescent to puberulous.
    Leaves
    Leaves: stipules free, narrowly ovate, small, early caducous; petiole with rachis 5–12(16) cm long, pubescent; leaflets in 10–18 pairs, (0.8)1.2–3.2 cm long, narrowly oblong, rounded and asymmetric at the base, rounded to truncate or sometimes emarginate at the apex, pubescent or occasionally glabrous except for a tuft of yellowish hairs at the base, venation raised-reticulate on both surfaces.
    Inflorescences
    Racemes 1–15(22) cm long; axis pubescent to densely so; pedicels 3–14 mm long, glabrous to pubescent.
    Flowers
    Flower buds red.
    Hypanthium
    Hypanthium 3–5 mm long.
    Calyx
    Sepals pale yellow inside, reddish outside, 8–12 mm long, elliptic, acute, imbricate.
    Corolla
    Petals yellow with red veins, large ones 10–13 mm long, elliptic to obovate-elliptic.
    Fruits
    Pods 3–14 cm long, 2–3 cm in diameter, cylindrical with irregular constrictions, straight or curved, brown-scurfy, 1–10-seeded.
    Seeds
    Seeds chestnut-brown, 11–17 × 10–12 mm, rhombic to trapezioid.
    [FTEA]

    Leguminosae, J. B. Gillett, R. M. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1971

    Habit
    Tree 3–24 m. high; bark rough, grey or grey-black; crown rounded; young branchlets pubescent or puberulous.
    Leaves
    Leaves:petiole with rhachis 5–12(–16) cm. long, ± pubescent; leaflets in 10–18(–21, fide F.C.B.) pairs, narrowly oblong, (0.8–)1.2–3.2 cm. long, 0.3–1.1 cm. wide, rounded to rounded-subtruncate rarely slightly emarginate at apex, rounded and asymmetric at base, glabrous except for a tuft of yellowish hairs at base, sometimes pubescent up midrib and margins, rarely all over both surfaces; venation ± reticulate-raised on both surfaces.
    Inflorescences
    Racemes 1–15(–22) cm. long; axis subglabrous to densely pubescent; pedicels 3–14 mm. long, glabrous to pubescent.
    Buds
    Flower-buds red.
    Hypanthium
    Hypanthium 3–5 mm. long.
    Calyx
    Sepals 8–12 mm. long, pale yellow inside, reddish outside.
    Corolla
    Large petals 10–13 mm. long, elliptic or obovate-elliptic, gold with red veins.
    Fruits
    Pods curved or sometimes straight, sausage-like, (3–)6.5–14 cm. long, 2–3 cm. in diameter, usually obtuse at base and apex, sometimes irregularly constricted, closely covered outside with brown scurf, 1–10-seeded.
    Seeds
    Seeds chestnut-brown, ± rhombic to trapeziform, 11–17 mm. long, 10–12 mm. wide.
    Figures
    Fig. 32.
    Habitat
    Woodland, wooded grassland, deciduous bushland; near sea-level to 1520 m.
    Distribution
    widespread in the tropics of the Old World K1 K2 K4 K5 K6 K7 T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 T8
    [ILDIS]

    International Legume Database and Information Service

    Conservation
    Not Threatened
    Ecology
    Africa: Zambezian woodland, Sudanian woodland, Somalia-Masai forest, Lake Victoria regional transition zone; scrub forest., Zanzibar-Inhambane regional transition zone; bushland and thicket., Cultivated; Indian Ocean: West Malagasy forest.
    Habit
    Perennial, Not climbing, Tree
    Vernacular
    Amli, Anbli, Imli, Indian Date, Kily, Madiro, Maha-siyambala, Puli, Siyambala, Tamaleni, Tamare, Tamaren, Tamarin, Tamarin des Bas, Tamarind, Tamarindo, Tamarinier, Tamarinier des Bas, Tamerine, Tamrind
    [FWTA]

    Caesalpiniaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:2. 1958

    Ecology
    Commonly cultivated; also in savannah, especially on termite mounds.
    [ILDIS]
    Use
    Chemical products, Domestic, Environmental, Fibre, Food and Drink, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Wood

    Images

    Distribution

    Doubtfully present in:

    Hainan

    Native to:

    Madagascar

    Introduced into:

    Aldabra, Andaman Is., Angola, Aruba, Assam, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bismarck Archipelago, Bolivia, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Is., Central African Repu, Chad, Chagos Archipelago, China South-Central, China Southeast, Christmas I., Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Florida, Galápagos, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jawa, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Laccadive Is., Laos, Leeward Is., Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaya, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mozambique, Mozambique Channel I, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Oman, Pakistan, Panamá, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Rodrigues, Réunion, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Socotra, Somalia, Southwest Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sumatera, Tanzania, Texas, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad-Tobago, Turks-Caicos Is., Uganda, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Vietnam, West Himalaya, Western Australia, Windward Is., Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Common Names

    English
    Tamarind

    Tamarindus indica L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Jun 1, 2009 Massuqueto, S.C. [2], Brazil K000931846
    Nov 14, 2005 Harley, R.M. [54736], Brazil K000890882
    Oct 1, 1999 Bisset, E. [11], Madagascar K000383035
    Jan 1, 1997 McWhirter, J.H. [124], Madagascar K000383046
    Jan 1, 1997 Decary, R. [15992], Madagascar K000383033
    Jan 1, 1997 Baron, R. [4572], Madagascar K000383051
    Jan 1, 1997 Baron, R. [165], Madagascar K000383053
    Jan 1, 1997 Chauvet, F. [158], Madagascar K000383036
    Jan 1, 1997 Randrianasolo [2160], Madagascar K000383042
    Jan 1, 1997 s.coll. [883], Madagascar K000383039
    Jan 1, 1997 s.coll. [7968], Madagascar K000383041
    Jan 1, 1997 Ramamonjisoa [2552], Madagascar K000383043
    Jan 1, 1997 Hladik, C.M. [1], Madagascar K000383032
    Jan 1, 1997 Boiteau, P. [1018], Madagascar K000383034
    Jan 1, 1997 Ranjokiny [8858], Madagascar K000383038
    Jan 1, 1997 Tsilizy [6782], Madagascar K000383040
    Jun 1, 1988 Phillipson, P.B. [1822], Madagascar K000383031
    Mar 29, 1988 Mendonça, R.C. [397], Brazil K000931839
    Tanner, R. [333], Tanzania 15508.000
    McWhirter, J.H. [124], Madagascar 32133.000
    Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. [14336], Madagascar K000383037
    Renvoize, S.A. [717], Seychelles 7315.000
    Lewis, G.P., Brazil 51915.000
    Lewis, G.P. [CFCR7512], Brazil K000931845
    Burchell [6253], Brazil K000931840
    Burchell [5125], Brazil K000931841
    Owens, S.J., USA 52828.000
    Eiten, G. [10303], Brazil K000931844
    Glocker [153], Brazil K000931843
    Hildebrandt, J.M. [3303], Madagascar K000383049
    Hildebrandt, J.M. [3303], Madagascar K000383052
    Lam, H.J. [6114], Madagascar K000383045
    Humblot, M. [373], Comoros K000383048
    Barnett, L.C. [273], Madagascar K000383050
    Malcomber, S.T. [1115], Madagascar K000383030
    Glaziou, A.F.M. [2533], Brazil K000931842
    Scott-Elliot, G.F. [2626], Madagascar K000383056
    Ramamonjisoa [11636], Madagascar K000383044
    Schlieben, H.-.J. [8251], Madagascar K000383047
    Roussel, S. [14], Madagascar K000383055
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824], Bangladesh K001122283
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824], Thailand K001122284
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824], Thailand K001122285
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824] K001122286
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824] K001122287
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824] K001122288
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5824] K001122289

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 34 (1753)

    Accepted by

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    • Meena, S.L. (2012). A checklist of the vascular plants of Banaskantha district, Gujarat, India Nelumbo 54: 39-91.
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    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • Lewis, G., Schrire, B. Mackinder, B. & Lock, J. M. (eds) (2005). Legumes of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    • DuPuy, D. J., Labat, J. -N., Rabevohitra, R, Villiers, J. -F., Bosser, J. & Moat, J. (2002). The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Burkill, H. M. (1995). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa 3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • DADOBAT. Domestication and development of baobab and tamarind.
    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • Aubrév. Fl. For. Soud.-Guln. 226, t. 57, 6–7.
    • Chev. Bot. 232
    • —F.T.A. 2: 308
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
    • Lepschi, B. & Monro, A. (Project Coordinators) (2014). Australian Plant Census (APC) Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html.
    • Jørgensen, P.M., Nee, M.H. & Beck., S.G. (eds.) (2013). Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 127: 1-1741. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Leti, M., Hul, S., Fouché, J.-G., Cheng, S.K. & David, B. (2013). Flore photographique du Cambodge: 1-589. Éditions Privat, Toulouse.
    • Evenhuis, N.L. & Eldredge, L.G. (eds.) (2012). Records of the Hawaii biological survey for 2011. Part II: plants Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 113: 1-102.
    • López Patiño, E.J., Szeszko, D.R., Rascala Pérez, J. & Beltrán Retis, A.S. (2012). The flora of the Tenacingo-Malinalco-Zumpahuacán protected natural area, state of Mexico, Mexico Harvard Papers in Botany 17: 65-167.
    • Meena, S.L. (2012). A checklist of the vascular plants of Banaskantha district, Gujarat, India Nelumbo 54: 39-91.
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    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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