Family : Leguminosae
Tamarindus (Tamarindus indica)
is an evergreen tree, of the pea family native to tropical Africa.
It is widely cultivated in other regions as an ornamental and for
its edible fruit. The word tamarind literally means ‘date of
India’. Tamarind, a native of East Africa, is now grown extensively
in India, South East Asia and the West Indies.
Tamarind is semi-evergreen, tropical
tree that grows to about 24 m (80 feet) tall and has long drooping
branches with alternate, pinnately compound (feather-formed) leaves;
the leaflets are about 2 cm (0.75 inch) long. The yellow flowers,
about 2.5 cm across, with a red stripe are borne in small clusters.
The dark brown fruit is a plump pod 7.5-24 cm long that does not
split open. It contains 1 to 12 large, flat seeds embedded in a
soft, brownish pulp. This pulp has a high tartaric acid content,
that imparts for its sourness.
This portion of the fruit is widely
used in the Orient in foods, beverages, and medicines. It is a standard
ingredient in curries, chutneys, soups and several other dishes
of India and South East Asia. The juice is made into a refreshing
drink in both the Middle East and the West Indies.
Medicinal and other use
Tamarind is a good laxative and an
antiseptic. It is used for tummy upsets and for the treatment of
ulcers. Over-ripe fruits can be used to clean copper and brass.