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Tamarind fruit trees are native to China and the Indian subcontinent, and now can be found in the southwest and central parts of the United States. They have a history of medicinal and food use, but more recently are prized for their ornamental beauty. They grow fast, and are available in almost any size, shape, or color imaginable.
Tamarind fruit tree culture is fascinating in its own right. As a parent, I have to say it’s pretty hard to get these trees to bloom in the spring, though. But for those who are patient enough to allow their branches to grow and not prune, many develop into beautiful trees. I’ve also had success with “training” the fruit spurs of the fruit tree (the tiny “flower” growing in the center of the fruit) into good vertical lines.
In an attempt to grow some other species, I chose a little seed for West Texas. It wasn’t much, but the roots survived in a nice container and the branches were prolific in growth. And while the leaves of the other species are not dark green, they did create a nice contrast with the bright yellow fruit of the tamarind. And the fragrance! Even when young, the scent of these trees is absolutely incredible. Though the fruit isn’t overly sweet (since they are pressed rather than fermented), the seeds contain chemicals that are said to provide relief from stomach upset.
In the wild, these trees are often near limestone outcroppings, which provides a good environment for their roots. Once mature, their tall canopy can create a shady environment for surrounding plants.
Though most tamarinds are unsymmetrical, they can take on a variety of shapes. Some may be rounded in topography, while others look like regular trees. Their branches start out fairly even in size, then may develop into anything from a straight line to an odd sort of tree topology. I personally enjoy those that look like small short trees.
In West Texas, I was surprised that the fruit tree is far more hardy than I would have guessed. The containerized seed didn’t have to be watered very much, nor did it have to endure excessive wind, cold, heat, or drought. I’m sure there are tamarinds that are more sensitive to these factors, but the specimen we planted (and are watching grow) is thriving.
Though I haven’t personally found one of these trees to be particularly attractive (perhaps with our own Texas aesthetic bias), they have a long history of beauty and of medicinal use. I’d love to hear of your experiences with this interesting and versatile fruit tree.
Tamarind Fruit Trees
The tamarind (Tamil: Tamil maṇikai, Cantonese: प्यागी kauy-kā, Japanese: ワカハナキ Tuwahana-ki, Indonesian: Tamarind, or manicureta, Bengali: māṇikāṇi, Telugu:మనికికా maṇikkā) is a leguminous tree native to central and southwestern India, Burma, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia, and Indochina. A small genus in the family Fabaceae, it is closely related to the genus Erythrina and to a lesser extent to the litchi tree.
Tamarind trees have been recorded in the records of ancient India from the Indus valley civilization. It is among the oldest fruits used to create a sticky beverage. The most popular species of tamarind is the Indian Tamarind, known as "Shudh", "Jellie" and "Moong".
"Tamarind juice, as an exciting new superfood drink, has transformed the lives of people all over the world" — Dr. Phyalu Sandilya
Tamarind juice is a very healthy drink made from the fruits of the tamarind tree, and is a great nutritious food, used in a number of health benefits.
Tamarind fruit juice has a sour-sweet taste and thick consistency, making it a great natural remedy for bloating, gas, constipation, arthritis, indigestion, and other intestinal disorders.
Tamarind is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc, and is a good source of manganese, niacin, and magnesium. The fruits and leaves of tamarind are also high in natural source of antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Although tamarind is often used for souring food, the fruits have a wonderful sweet taste in their juices. In the past, it was used in the making of curries, marmalades, fruit preserves and teas. Today, they are commonly used in salads, shakes, fruit smoothies and flavoring extracts.
Tamarind fruits are called Jellie, Jellie Moong, Jel, Moong, Moong Tamarind, Tuwahana, Manikka, Sanki Moong, etc. They are also known as tamarind seeds, and also as gingko-like fruits. These are the seeds found within the fruit that fall to the ground when the fruit is taken off the tree. This is the most commonly used tamarind, and is most suitable for making tamarind juice, jams and syrups.
Though tamarind is available in different shapes and colors, these are the most commonly used variety. The tamarind fruit is a large sphere