Login Logout
Jump to: navigation, search


Template:Short description Template:About Template:Distinguish Template:Other uses Template:Use mdy dates Template:Taxobox

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is a leguminous tree in the family Fabaceae indigenous to tropical Africa. The genus Tamarindus is a monotypic taxon (having only a single species).

The tamarind tree produces pod-like fruit that contains an edible pulp used in cuisines around the world. Other uses of the pulp include traditional medicine and metal polish. The wood can be used for woodworking and tamarind seed oil can be extracted from the seeds. Its leaves are used in Indian cuisine, especially in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> Because of tamarind's many uses, it is cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical zones.


Tamarindus leaves and fruit pod

The name derives from Template:Lang-ar, romanized tamar hindi, "Indian date". Several early medieval herbalists and physicians wrote tamar indi, medieval Latin use was tamarindus, and Marco Polo wrote of tamarandi.<ref>Tamarind; Oxford English dictionary</ref>

In Colombia, Ecuador,Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Italy, Spain, and throughout the Lusosphere, it is called tamarindo. In those countries it is often used to make the beverage of the same name. In Timor-Leste it is also called sukaer. In the Caribbean, tamarind is sometimes called tamón.<ref name=Morton/> In the Philippines, it is called sampalok or sampaloc <ref>Google translate</ref>. Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is sometimes confused with "Manila tamarind" (Pithecellobium dulce). While in the same taxonomic family Fabaceae, Manila tamarind is a different plant native to Mexico and known locally as guamúchili.


Tamarindus indica is probably indigenous to tropical Africa,<ref name = "Diallo">Template:Cite journal</ref> but has been cultivated for so long on the Indian subcontinent that it is sometimes reported to be indigenous there,<ref name = "Abukakar">Template:Cite journal</ref> where it is known as imli in Hindi-Urdu.<ref name="Raghavan2006">Template:Cite book</ref> It grows wild in Africa in locales as diverse as Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania. In Arabia, it is found growing wild in Oman, especially Dhofar, where it grows on the sea-facing slopes of mountains. It reached South Asia likely through human transportation and cultivation several thousand years BC.<ref name=Morton>Template:Cite book</ref><ref name=Popenoe>Template:Cite book</ref> It is widely distributed throughout the tropical belt, from Africa to South Asia, northern Australia, and throughout Oceania, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and China.

In the 16th century, it was introduced to Mexico, and to a lesser degree to South America, by Spanish and Portuguese colonists, to the degree that it became a staple ingredient in the region's cuisine.<ref name=Tamale>Template:Cite book</ref>

Today, India is the largest producer of tamarind.<ref>Tamarind monograph; PDF format; retrieved May 2017</ref> The consumption of tamarind is widespread due to its central role in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Americas, especially Mexico.


A tamarind seedling

The tamarind is a long-lived, medium-growth tree, which attains a maximum crown height of Template:Convert. The crown has an irregular, vase-shaped outline of dense foliage. The tree grows well in full sun. It prefers clay, loam, sandy, and acidic soil types, with a high resistance to drought and aerosol salt (wind-borne salt as found in coastal areas).<ref name=":0">Template:Cite news</ref>

The evergreen leaves are alternately arranged and pinnately lobed. The leaflets are bright green, elliptic-ovular, pinnately veined, and less than Template:Convert in length. The branches droop from a single, central trunk as the tree matures, and are often pruned in agriculture to optimize tree density and ease of fruit harvest. At night, the leaflets close up.<ref name=":0" />

As a tropical species, it is frost-sensitive. The pinnate leaves with opposite leaflets give a billowing effect in the wind. Tamarind timber consists of hard, dark red heartwood and softer, yellowish sapwood.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

The tamarind flowers (although inconspicuously), with red and yellow elongated flowers. Flowers are 2.5 cm wide (one inch), five-petalled, borne in small racemes, and yellow with orange or red streaks. Buds are pink as the four sepals are pink and are lost when the flower blooms.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Raw tamarind fruit


The fruit is an indehiscent legume, sometimes called a pod, Template:Convert in length, with a hard, brown shell.<ref name=Doughari>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref name=UF_FactSheet>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=FloriData>Template:Cite web</ref>

The fruit has a fleshy, juicy, acidulous pulp. It is mature when the flesh is coloured brown or reddish brown. The tamarinds of Asia have longer pods (containing six to 12 seeds), whereas African and West Indian varieties have shorter pods (containing one to six seeds). The seeds are somewhat flattened, and a glossy brown. The fruit is best described as sweet and sour in taste, and is high in tartaric acid, sugar, B vitamins, and, unusually for a fruit, calcium.<ref name=":0" />

The fruit is harvested by pulling the pod from its stalk. A mature tree may be capable of producing up to Template:Convert of fruit per year. Veneer grafting, shield (T or inverted T) budding, and air layering may be used to propagate desirable cultivars. Such trees will usually fruit within three to four years if provided optimum growing conditions.<ref name=":0" />

Culinary use

Tamarind paste
Tamarind balls from Trinidad and Tobago

Template:Nutritional value The fruit pulp is edible. The hard green pulp of a young fruit is considered by many to be too sour, but is often used as a component of savory dishes, as a pickling agent or as a means of making certain poisonous yams in Ghana safe for human consumption.<ref name="Tamarind: Tamarindus Indica L.">Template:Cite book</ref> As the fruit matures it becomes sweeter and less sour (acidic) and the ripened fruit is considered more palatable. In Western cuisine, it is found in Worcestershire Sauce <ref name=BBCrecipes>Template:Cite web</ref> and HP Sauce.

Tamarind paste has many culinary uses including a flavoring for chutnies, curries, and the traditional sharbat syrup drink.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> Tamarind sweet chutney is popular in India and Pakistan<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> as a dressing for many snacks. Tamarind pulp is a key ingredient in flavoring curries and rice in south Indian cuisine, in the Chigali lollipop, and in certain varieties of Masala Chai tea. Across the Middle East, from the Levant to Iran, tamarind is used in savory dishes, notably meat-based stews, and often combined with dried fruits to achieve a sweet-sour tang.<ref>Tamarind is the 'sour secret of Syrian cooking' ; PRI; July 2014</ref><ref>Joan Nathan. "Georgian Chicken in Pomegranate and Tamarind Sauce"; New York Times; 2004</ref> In the Philippines, the whole fruit is used as an ingredient in the traditional dish called sinigang to add a unique sour taste, unlike that of dishes that use vinegar instead.

Tamarind seed oil

Tamarind seed oil is the oil made from the kernel of tamarind seeds.<ref>article;</ref> Isolation of the kernel without the thin but tough shell (or testa) is difficult. Tamarind kernel powder is used as sizing material for textile and jute processing, and in the manufacture of industrial gums and adhesives. It is de-oiled to stabilize its colour and odor on storage.

Composition of tamarind seed kernel

Composition Original De-oiled
Oil 7.6% 0.6%
Protein 7.6% 19.0%
Polysaccharide 51.0% 55.0%
Crude fiber 1.2% 1.1%
Total ash 3.9% 3.4%
Acid insoluble ash 0.4% 0.3%
Moisture 7.1%

The fatty acid composition of the oil is linoleic 46.5%, oleic 27.2%,
and saturated fatty acids 26.4%. The oil is usually bleached after refining.

Fatty acid composition of tamarind kernel oil

Fatty acid (%) Range reported
Lauric acid (C12:0) tr-0.3
Myristic acid (C14:0) tr-0.4
Palmitic acid (C16:0) 8.7-14.8
Stearic acid (C18:0) 4.4-6.6
Arachidic acid (C20:0) 3.7-12.2
Lignoceric acid (C24:0) 4.0-22.3
Oleic acid (C18:1) 19.6-27.0
Linoleic acid (18:2) 7.5-55.4
Linolenic acid (C18:3) 2.8-5.6


Tamarind tree on the site of the founding of Santa Clara, Cuba

Seeds can be scarified or briefly boiled to enhance germination. They retain their germination capability for several months if kept dry.Template:Citation needed

The tamarind has long been naturalized in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. Thailand has the largest plantations of the ASEAN nations, followed by Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. In parts of Southeast Asia, tamarind is called asam.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> It is cultivated all over India, especially in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Extensive tamarind orchards in India produce 275,500 tons (250,000 MT) annually.<ref name=":0" />

Tamarind flowers

In the United States, it is a large-scale crop introduced for commercial use, second in net production quantity only to India, mainly in the southern states, notably south Florida (due to tropical and semitropical climates), and as a shade tree, along roadsides, in dooryards and in parks.<ref name=UN_FAO>Template:Cite web</ref>

A traditional food plant in Africa, tamarind has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> In Madagascar, its fruit and leaves are a well-known favorite of the ring-tailed lemur, providing as much as 50 percent of their food resources during the year if available.<ref name=WPRC>Template:Cite web</ref>

Folk medicine

Throughout Southeast Asia, the fruit of the tamarind is used as a poultice applied to foreheads of fever sufferers.<ref name=Doughari/> The fruit exhibits laxative effects due to its high quantities of malic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium bitartrate. Its use for the relief of constipation has been documented throughout the world.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>


Tamarind lumber is used to make furniture, carvings, turned objects such as mortars and pestles, chopping blocks, and other small specialty wood items. Tamarind heartwood is reddish brown, sometimes with a purplish hue. The heartwood in tamarind tends to be narrow and is usually only present in older and larger trees. The pale yellow sapwood is sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Heartwood is said to be durable to very durable in decay resistance, and is also resistant to insects. Its sapwood is not durable and is prone to attack by insects and fungi as well as spalting. Due to its density and interlocked grain, tamarind is considered difficult to work. Heartwood has a pronounced blunting effect on cutting edges. Tamarind turns, glues, and finishes well. The heartwood is able to take a high natural polish.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Metal polish

In homes and temples, especially in Buddhist Asian countries, the fruit pulp is used to polish brass shrine statues and lamps, and copper, brass, and bronze utensils. The copper alone or in brass reacts with moist carbon dioxide to gain a green coat of copper carbonate. Tamarind contains tartaric acid, a weak acid that can remove the coat of copper carbonate. Hence, tarnished copper utensils are cleaned with tamarind or lime, another acidic fruit.<ref name=Morton/>


Throughout South Asia and the tropical world, tamarind trees are used as ornamental, garden, and cash crop plantings. Commonly used as a bonsai species in many Asian countries, it is also grown as an indoor bonsai in temperate parts of the world.<ref name="Ma-Ke_Tamarindus indica ">Template:Cite web</ref>


In hens, tamarind has been found to lower cholesterol in their serum, and in the yolks of the eggs they laid.<ref name=EggYolk>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> Due to a lack of available human clinical trials, there is insufficient evidence to recommend tamarind for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia or diabetes.<ref name=HealthOnline>Template:Cite web</ref> Different parts of tamarind (T. indica) are recognized for their various medicinal properties. A previous study reported that the seed, leaf, leaf veins, fruit pulp and skin extracts of tamarind possessed high phenolic content and antioxidant activities.<ref>Nurhanani Razali, Sarni Mat-Junit, Amirah Faizah Abdul- Muthalib, Senthilkumar Subramaniam, Azlina Abdul- Aziz. Effect of various solvents on the extraction of antioxidant phenolics from the leaves, seeds, veins and skins of Tamarindus indica L. Food Chemistry 2012, 131(2), 441-448.</ref> The presence of lupanone and lupeol,<ref>Imam S, Azhar I, Hasan MM, Ali MS, Ahmed SW. 2007. Two triterpenes lupanone and lupeol isolated and identified from Tamarindus indica linn. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 20(2):125–127</ref> catechin, epicatechin, quercetin and isorhamnetin <ref>Nurhanani Razali, Sarni Mat-Junit, Amirah Faizah Abdul- Muthalib, Senthilkumar Subramaniam, Azlina Abdul- Aziz. Effect of various solvents on the extraction of antioxidant phenolics from the leaves, seeds, veins and skins of Tamarindus indica L. Food Chemistry 2012, 131(2), 441-448</ref> in the leaf extract could have contributed towards the diverse range of the medicinal activities. On the other hand, ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) analyses revealed that tamarind seeds contained catechin, procyanidin B2, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, chloramphenicol, myricetin, morin, quercetin, apigenin and kaempferol.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> The treatment of tamarind leaves on liver HepG2 cells significantly regulated the expression of genes and proteins involved with consequential impact on the coagulation system, cholesterol biosynthesis, xenobiotic metabolism signaling and antimicrobial response. <ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

See also





  • Bhumibhamon, S. 1988. Multi-purpose trees for small-farm use in the Central Plain of Thailand. D withington, K MacDicken., CB Sastyr and NR Adams, eds Multi-purpose trees for small-farm use: Proceedings of an International Workshop pp. 53–55. November 2–5, 1987, Pattaya Thailand.
  • Jean-Marc Boffa, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Publisher Food & Agriculture Org., 1999. Agroforestry parklands in Sub-Saharan Africa Volume 34 of FAO conservation guide Agroforestry Parklands in Sub-Saharan Africa, Template:ISBN, Template:ISBN, 230 pages
  • Dassanayake, M. D. & Fosberg, F. R. (Eds.). (1991). A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Hooker, Joseph Dalton. (1879). The Flora of British India, Vol II. London: L. Reeve & Co.
  • Locke J, N Renner: 1991 Pod Form and Non-Pod Form Variants of Tamarind in Guadelupe Yaghoubian Agricultural Review 2:122–149
  • Michon G, F Mary, J Bopmart: 1986 Multi-Storied agroforestry Garden System in West Sumatra, Indonesia Agroforestry Systems 4:315–338
  • Narawane SP 1991 Success stories of Multi-purpose tree species production by small farmers in NG Hedge and JN Daniel eds, Multi-purpose tree species production by small farmers, proceedings of the National Workshop. January 28–31, 1991 Pune, India.
  • James Rennie: 1834. Alphabet of medical botany. Orr and Smith, 1834. 152 page 77. Google Books
  • George Spratt, 1830. Flora Medica: containing coloured delineations of the various medicinal plants admitted into the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin pharmacopœias; with their natural history, botanical descriptions, medical and chemical properties, Together with a Concise Introduction to Botany; a Copious Glossary of Botanical Terms; and a List of Poisonous Plants. Callow and Wilson, 1830. Google Books.
  • Nurhanani Razali, Sarni Mat-Junit, Amirah Faizah Abdul- Muthalib, Senthilkumar Subramaniam, Azlina Abdul- Aziz. Effect of various solvents on the extraction of antioxidant phenolics from the leaves, seeds, veins and skins of Tamarindus indica L. Food Chemistry 2012, 131(2), 441-448.
  • Nurhanani Razali, Sarni Mat Junit, Azhar Ariffin, Nur Siti Fatimah Ramli and Azlina Abdul Aziz. Polyphenols from the extract and fraction of T. indica seeds protected HepG2 cells against oxidative stress. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2015), 15:438 DOI: 10.1186/s12906-015- 0963-2
  • Imam S, Azhar I, Hasan MM, Ali MS, Ahmed SW. 2007. Two triterpenes lupanone and lupeol isolated and identified from Tamarindus indica linn. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 20(2):125–127.
  • Nurhanani Razali, Azlina A Aziz and Sarni M Junit. Gene expression profiles in human HepG2 cells treated with extracts of the Tamarindus indica fruit pulp. Genes and Nutrition (2010) 5:331-341

External links

Template:Commons category

Template:Herbs & spices Template:Non-timber forest products Template:Taxonbar