Foto info
aturalized Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Tamarind • Hindi: Imli इमली • Bengali: Amli • Manipuri: মংগে Mange • Tamil: Puli புளி • Telugu: Chinta • Marathi: Chinch
Botanical name: Tamarindus indica    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)

Tamarind is a very common large tree with a short massive trunk, ferny pinnate leaves, small yellow flowers and fat reddish brown pods. The tree can get 90 ft tall but is usually less than 50 ft. It has a short, stocky trunk, drooping branches and a domed umbrella shaped crown about as wide as the tree's height. The leaves are about 10 in long with 10-18 pairs of 1 in oblong leaflets. Tamarind drops its leaves in pronounced dry seasons; in climates without a dry season it stays evergreen. The flowers are about 1 in across, pale yellow with purple or red veins. They have five unequal lobes and borne in small drooping clusters. The velvety cinnamon brown pods are 2-6 in long, sausage shaped and constricted between the seeds. The pulp that surrounds the 8-10 seeds is both sweet and extremely sour, and girls in India love it. It is common to have a tamarind tree in the compound of a girls hostel. Tamarind is very much used in cooking in India, particularly in the south. Contrary to popular belief, Tamarind is not native to India. It originated in tropical Africa, including Sudan and parts of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests. It was introduced into India so long ago that it has often been reported as indigenous here, and it was apparently from India that it reached the Persians and the Arabs who called it "tamar hind" (Indian date, from the date-like appearance of the dried pulp), giving rise to both its common and generic name. The species name indica also gives the misleading impression that it originated in India.

Photographed in Delhi
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