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Tamarind

Tamarind or Indian date is a plant of the legume family, the only species of the genus tamarind. It is a multipurpose long-lived tree, best known for its fruit.

The plant is native to tropical Africa and exotic to Asia and Central America. India and Thailand are the world's largest producers of tamarind, producing 300,000 and 140,000 tons per year respectively. There are two main types of tamarind: sour (the most common) and sweet (mostly from Thailand). In addition to eating the fruit of tamarind, the plant has many uses in the pharmaceutical and woodworking industries and folk medicine.

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Botanical description of tamarind

Tamarindus Indica is a large evergreen tree up to 30 m high and up to 2 m in diameter; the crown is dense, widely spreading, rounded; the bark is fissured, grayish brown.

Leaves are alternating, compound, with 10-18 pairs of opposite leaves; leaflets are narrowly oblong, 12-32 x 3-11 mm, petiole and rickets are fine-haired, midrib and mesh veins are more or less visible on both surfaces. The apex of the leaf is rounded to almost square, slightly serrated; base rounded, asymmetrical, with a tuft of yellow hairs; edge bordered with fine hairs.

The flowers are attractive, pale yellow or pinkish, with small, loose spikelets about 2.5 cm wide.

Fruit pod sub cylindrical, 10-18 x 4 cm, straight or curved, velvety, rusty brown; the pod shell is fragile, and the seeds

embedded in sticky edible pulp. Seeds 3-10, about 1.6 cm long, irregular, hard, shiny and smooth.

Since the dark brown flesh of the fruit resembles dried dates,

The Arabs called it "tamar-u-hind", which means "Indian date," and this inspired Linnaeus when he described the tree in the 18th century.

Tamarind biology

Tamarind blooms usually occur in sync with new leaf growth, which occurs in spring and summer in most areas. Hermaphrodite flowers are pollinated by insects; bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers and contribute to pollination. T. indica usually begins fruiting at 7-10 years of age, with pod yields stabilizing after about 15 years. The fruits are adapted for reproduction by ruminants; in Southeast Asia, monkeys are among the main dispersal agents. The fruits are leathery, nutritious pods that don't crack until they fall off the tree, but the seeds are hard and smooth and difficult to chew.

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Tamarind nutritional value

The tamarind pod is widely used as food in tropical countries. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Ripe seeds are dried, then fried or boiled. They can also be ground into flour or roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Young leaves and flowers are also edible raw or cooked. The green tender fruits are used as a seasoning, as well as for making juices and pasta. Unripe pods are used in many ways: they are eaten fresh, mixed with spices, pickled like green mangoes, or added to soups, stews and sauces.

Wood also provides a number of other nutritional uses as well as a wide variety of medical and other uses. It is widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics as an ornamental plant.

Tamarind growing areas

TamarindusIndica is a large tree with a wide geographical distribution. Although the origin of this species is not fully understood, it is believed that it is native to tropical Africa, but has long been introduced to many countries of the world.

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