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Publication #ENH776

Tamarindus indica: Tamarind1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

A frost-tender, tropical, evergreen tree, tamarind is densely foliated with blue green to pale green, compound, feathery leaflets which give the broad, spreading crown a light, airy effect. Tamarind may reach heights of 65 feet and a spread of 50 feet but is more often seen smaller. The delicate leaflets cast a diffuse, dappled shade which will allow enough sunlight to penetrate for a lawn to thrive beneath this upright, dome-shaped tree.

Figure 1. 

Full Form—Tamarindus indica: tamarind


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General Information

Scientific name: Tamarindus indica

Pronunciation: tam-uh-RIN-dus IN-dih-kuh

Common name(s): tamarind

Family: Fabaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to tropical Africa and Madagascar

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended

Uses: street without sidewalk; shade; specimen; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; highway median

Figure 2. 

Range


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Description

Height: 40 to 65 feet

Spread: 40 to 50 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: vase, round

Crown density: dense

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: even-pinnately compound; made up of 10 to 15 pairs of leaflets

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: elliptic

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 2 to 5 inches; leaflets are 1/3 to 3/4 inch

Leaf color: blue green to pale green on top, paler green underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Tamarindus indica: tamarind


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Flower

Flower color: pale yellow with reddish pink veins

Flower characteristics: not showy; 3 petals; emerges in clusters on 6” long, pendulant racemes

Flowering: late spring to summer

Figure 4. 

Flower—Tamarindus indica: tamarind


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Fruit

Fruit shape: slightly curved, indehiscent pod

Fruit length: 2 to 7 inches

Fruit covering: dry or hard; velvety

Fruit color: turns from green to brown when mature

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Fruiting: late fall to early summer

Figure 5. 

Fruit—Tamarindus indica: tamarind


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Trunk and Branches

Trunk/ranches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: gray brown to blackish and rough, with vertical fissures and horizontal cracks

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: green, gray

Current year twig thickness: thin

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 6. 

Bark—Tamarindus indica: tamarind


Credit:

Gitta Hasing


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Culture

Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: low to moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: yes

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

The twigs and branches of tamarind are very resistant to wind, making it especially useful as a shade or street tree for breezy locations. But tamarind has low salt-tolerance so do not locate it close to the beach. In spring, small yellow and red flowers appear on short racemes and are followed by the production of brittle, brown, seven-inch-long, velvety pods. These sticky pods are filled with a sweet-sour, dark brown paste which surrounds two or three seeds. They normally dry up and do not become messy, but some people will undoubtedly object to the fruit falling on sidewalks or streets. Tamarind is grown commercially in the tropics for production of this edible paste, which is used as an ingredient for Worcestershire sauce, soft drinks, chutneys, and curries.

Tamarind should be grown only in frost-free regions in full sun on moist, fertile, sandy soil. It survived 26 degrees for several hours in West Palm Beach in the mid-1980s. Care should be taken in the placement of tamarind as the seed pods may be messy for a short period when they drop on hard surfaces. Also, be sure to maintain a strong tree structure including major branches well-spaced along one central trunk.

Propagation is by seeds which germinate readily or by cuttings. If quality fruit is desired, plants should be air-layered, grafted, or shield-budded.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Reference

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH776, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised March 2007 and December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.