August 7, 2018

Tamarind tree

Tamarindus indica L., commonly known as tamarind, is a multipurpose long-lived tree best known for its fruit. It is indigenous to tropical Africa and exotic to Asia and Central America. India and Thailand are the major tamarind world producers, generating 300 000 and 140 000 tons annually, respectively. The tamarind tree originates from Madagascar. The most valuable and commonly used part is the fruit.

Tamarindus indica L. (syns. T occidentalis Gaertn, T officinalis Hook, T.umbrosa Salisb) belongs to the family leguminaceae (syns. Fabaceae) and subfamily Caesalpinaceae.

Tamarind may reach heights of 65 feet and a spread of 50 feet but is more often seen smaller. Leaves alternate, compound, with 10-18 pairs of opposite leaflets; leaflets narrowly oblong, 12-32 x 3-11 mm, petiole and rachis finely haired, midrib and net veining more or less conspicuous on both surfaces; apex rounded to almost square, slightly notched; base rounded, asymmetric, with a tuft of yellow hairs; margin entire, fringed with fine hairs. Stipules present, falling very early.

The fruit is a curved or straight pod with rounded ends, 12 to 15 cm in length, covered with a hard brown exterior shell. Fruit pulp is brown or reddish-brown when mature and the fruit pod contains between I and 12 flat and glossy brown seeds. The pulp constitutes 30–50 % of the ripe fruit, the shell and fibre account for 11–30 % and the seed about 25–40 %.

Tamarind pulp is rich in minerals such as potassium (62–570 mg/100 g); phosphorus (86–190 mg/100 g); and calcium (81–466 mg/100 g), and iron (1.3–10.9 mg/100 g). According to Parvez et al. (2003), magnesium content is high (25.6–30.2 mg/100 g), as is sodium (23.8–28.9 mg/100 g), whereas copper (0.8–1.2 mg/100 g) and zinc (0.8–0.9 mg/100 g) are low. It also excels in riboflavin and is a good source of thiamin and niacin, but is poor in vitamin A and vitamin C.
Tamarind tree
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