SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tamarindus indica
FAMILY: Leguminosae

For those who enjoy the acid-sweet taste of Tamarind, August to October is the time to harvest. The fruit consists of a brittle brown pod, varying from 2 to 10 inches (5 - 25 cm) in length and from ½ to 1 inch (1-2.5 cm) in width. This encloses a very sticky acid pulp which surrounds from 1 to 10 shiny brown seeds. The fruits can be stored for over 12 months if kept sealed in a cool dry place.

The Tamarind tree, believed to be native to tropical Africa, has been cultivated in Asia for centuries. They have been growing in the Territory for nearly 500 years and were introduced by the Macassans who sailed to our shores every season to catch trepang (sea-slug).

Tamarinds are handsome, evergreen, medium-to-large trees, some 10 to 15 metres in height with a dense crown, a thick trunk, and a strong taproot. They thrive in a wide variety of soils, but prefer a deep sandy or clay loam. These hardy trees enrich the soil with nitrogen, their fine leaves add humus. They require watering in their early years. The fruit contains tartaric acid, invert sugars and carbohydrates. They are high in calcium and phosphorus content. Ripe fruit is a good source of thiamine and niacin, and an excellent source of riboflavin.

A. King

DATE: May 1983

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