Tamarindus indica fruit & seeds

Source: Own work

Tamarindus indica fruit & seeds

Tamarindus indica or tamarind is a tree from the family Fabaceae, native to tropical Africa.

It produces edible fruit in the form of pods, which is used all around the world in the kitchen. The fruit tastes sweet and sour and has a high content of sugar, vitamin B and calcium.

It may also be used medicinally and, in some places, the tree has a mystical meaning.

It is also easy to grow as a houseplant or bonsai.


The tamarind is a long-lived tree with a height of 12-18 m. The heartwood is hard, dark red and used for furniture, the young wood is softer and yellowish.

The leaves are evergreen, bright green, elliptical, alternate, feather-shaped compound, pinnate with veins and less than 5 cm in length. The branches are parallel on a single, central stem. At night the leaves close.

The tamarind has inconspicuous flowers, red and yellow elongated flowers. The flowers are 2.5 cm wide, have five petals and appear in small clusters.

The fruit is a pod of 12-15 cm long, with a hard brown shell. It contains meaty, juicy, sour pulp. At maturity the pod is brown or reddish brown. The tamarind fruits of Asia have long pods with 6-12 seeds, the African and West Indian types have shorter pods with up to 6 seeds. The seeds are somewhat flattened and glossy brown.

The tree begins to flower after 3-4 years in tropical Africa, Asia 5-6 years, 8 years in Mexico.

Tamarindus indica leaves


Common names:

Imli, Indian Date, Indian Tamarind, Kilytree, Sampalok, Sweet Tamarind, Tamaleni, Tamare, Tamaren, Tamarin, Tamarin des Bas, Tamarind, Tamarind tree, Tamarindo, Tamarinier, Tamarinier des Bas, Tamerine, Tamrind


Tamarindus occidentalis, Tamarindus officinalis, Tamarindus umbrosa


Tamarindus: from the Arab tamr al-hindi (Indian date)
Indica: new Latin indicus (from India)


Tropical Africa, especially Sudan, where it still grows in the wild. It is now grown in tropical regions around the world.


Tropical forest with dry seasonal, woodland and wooded grassland, often found along the rivers.


USDA zone 9-11, -8 °C
Note: the tree is damaged by frost but can survive. In colder climates the fruit does not ripen

Tamarindus indica flowers

Source: J.M.Garg

Tamarindus indica flowers



The tree tolerates clay, silt, sand, and acid soils with high drought and salt air.


Full sun.


Water regularly. Although the tree is drought resistant, it will drop its leaves after a prolonged drought.


Young trees: every 2-3 months with 6-6-3 NPK.
Older, fruit-bearing trees: 3-4 times per year with 8-3-9 NPK


From seed. Only the large brown seeds from fresh, ripe pods are viable. The seeds maintain their viability 3-4 years on condition that they kept are in a dry box.

Tamarindus indica bonsai

Source: Thuydaonguyen

Tamarindus indica bonsai

Sowing instructions:

  • scarify the seeds or keep them 24h in water in the fridge. Both procedures provide better water absorption by the seed and increase the germination rate to about 95% by breaking down the hard shell.
  • plant the seeds in a sowing substrate, in high containers (a deep taproot develops early on)
  • mist the substrate so that it is damp, not wet
  • cover the pots to prevent evaporation
  • 20-25 °C
  • germination time: 7-10 days
  • protect the seedlings from direct sunlight until they are at least 30 cm (1′) high
  • be careful when transplanting, the roots do not tolerate damage