The Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic (having only a single species).
It is a tropical tree, native to 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 there, and it was apparently from India that it reached the Persians and the Arabs who called it "tamar hindi" (Indian date, from the date-like appearance of the dried pulp), giving rise to both its common and generic names. However, the specific name, "indica", also perpetuates the illusion of Indian origin. The fruit was well known to the ancient Egyptians and to the Greeks in the 4th Century B.C.E.
The tree can grow up to 20 metres (66 ft) in height, and stays evergreen in regions without a dry season. Being a tropical species, it is frost sensitive. It can withstand rather dry soils and climates. The tree has pinnate leaves with opposite leaflets giving a billowing effect in the wind. Tamarind timber consists of hard, dark red heartwood and softer, yellowish sapwood. The leaves consist of 10–40 leaflets. The flowers are produced in racemes. The flowers are mainly yellow in colour. The fruit is a brown pod-like legume, which contains a soft acidic pulp and many hard-coated seeds. The seeds can be scarified to enhance germination.
The tree has long been naturalized in the East Indies and the islands of the Pacific. One of the first tamarind ...