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Tamarind

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  • Botanical: Tamarindus indica
  • Family: Leguminosae
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Tamarind

Botanical

Tamarindus indica

Family

Leguminosae

Known as

Tamarindenbaum, Indische Dattel, Sauerdattel

Old Use

medical, induscty

Parts Used

fruit

Aroma

sweet

Medicinal

asthma, fever, laxative, worm

Infection & Inflammation

fever

Muscle & Joints

rheumatism

Respiratory System

asthma, catarrh

Stomach & Intestinal

bladder disease, laxative, worm

Properties

antiseptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, astringent

Description

The tamarind is a long-lived, medium-growth, bushy tree, which attains a maximum crown height of 12 to 18 metres (40 to 60 feet). The crown has an irregular, vase-shaped outline of dense foliage. The tree grows well in full sun in clay, loam, sandy, and acidic soil types, with a high drought and aerosol salt (wind-borne salt as found in coastal areas) resistance. Leaves are evergreen, bright green in color, elliptical ovular, arrangement is alternate, of the pinnately compound type, with pinnate venation and less than 5 cm (2 inches) in length. The branches droop from a single, central trunk as the tree matures and is often pruned in human agriculture to optimize tree density and ease of fruit harvest. At night, the leaflets close up.The tamarind does flower, though 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. Tamarind flowers The fruit is an indehiscent legume, sometimes called a pod, 12 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) in length, with a hard, brown shell. 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 short pods containing one to six seeds. The seeds are somewhat flattened, and glossy brown. The tamarind is best described as sweet and sour in taste, and is high in tartaric acid, sugar, B vitamins and, oddly for a fruit, calcium. 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. Tamarindus leaves and pod It is harvested by pulling the pod from its stalk. A mature tree may be capable of producing up to 175 kg (350 lb) of fruit per year. Veneer grafting, shield (T or inverted T) budding, and air layering may be used to propagate desirable selections. Such trees will usually fruit within three to four years if provided optimum growing conditions.

Properties & Uses

Cathartic, astringent, febrifuge, antiseptic, refrigerant. There are no known constituents in Tamarinds to account for their laxative properties; they are refrigerant from the acids they contain, an infusion of the Tamarind pulp making a useful drink in febrile conditions, and the pulp a good diet in convalescence to maintain a slightly laxative action of the bowels; also used in India as an astringent in bowel complaints. The pulp is said to weaken the action of resinous cathartics in general, but is frequently prescribed with them as a vehicle for jalap, etc. Tamarind is useful in correcting bilious disorders, 3 drachms up to 2 OZ. of the pulp to render it moderately cathartic are required according to the case. The leaves are some times used in subacid infusions, and a decoction is said to destroy worms in children, and is also useful for jaundice, and externally as a wash for sore eyes and ulcers. A punch is made from the fruit in the West Indies, mixed with a decoction of borage to allay the scalding of urine. Tamarind Whey, made by boiling 1 OZ. of the pulp in 1 pint of milk and then strained, makes a cooling laxative drink. In some forms of sore throat the fruit has been found of service. In Mauritius the Creoles mix salt with the pulp and use it as a liniment for rheumatism and make a decoction of the bark for asthma. The Bengalese employ Tamarind pulp in dysentery, and in times of scarcity use it as a food, boiling the pods or macerating them and removing the dark outer skin. The natives of India consider that the neighbourhood in which Tamarind trees grow becomes unwholesome, and that it is unsafe to sleep under the tree owing to the acid they exhale during the moisture of the night. It is said that no plant will live under the shade of it, but in the Author's experience some plants and bulbs bloomed luxuriantly under the Tamarind trees in her garden in Bengal. The wood is very hard and durable, valuable for building purposes and furnishes excellent charcoal for gunpowder; the leaves in infusion give a yellow dye. Tamarinds in Indian cookery is an important ingredient in curries and chutneys, and makes a delicious sauce for duck, geese and water fowl, and in Western India is used for pickling fish, Tamarind fish being considered a great delicacy.

Cautions

Based on the available research, it appears that tamarind is well tolerated in recommended doses. Tamarind is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in the United States when used orally and appropriately in food amounts, at a maximum use of 0.81% of dietary intake. There is one reported outbreak of weaver's cough associated with tamarind seed powder. Dust exposure to tamarind flours may also induce chronic changes in lung function. Additionally, tamarind seed preparations have been linked to acute respiratory reactions. Be aware tamarind candy has been associated with lead poisoning and death. Use cautiously in patients with diabetes due to its possible glucose lowering effects.

Distribution

In Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and throughout the Lusosphere, it is called tamarindo. In the Caribbean, tamarind is sometimes called tamón. 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 guamúchil.

Constituents

n-hexacosane, eicosanoic acid, b-sitosterol, octacosanyl ferulate, 21-oxobehenic acid, and (+)-pinitol.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.