Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) belongs to the Papilionaceae family. This botanical group includes species typical of tropical areas, with underdeveloped stems, while the branches also reach 25 meters in height. The leaves are alternate, paripinnate, briefly petiolate, shiny on the upper page and pale on the lower one. The leaflets are small, opposite, close together, oblong, obtuse and hairless. The flowers are large, greenish-yellow, irregular, gathered in raceme inflorescences. The fruit is a legume of hazelnut color, indehiscent, almost cylindrical, 10-15 cm long, 2 cm wide.
Tamarindus indica is a plant native to India; up to 30 meters high, with a base diameter that reaches 80 cm; it has a thick crown with numerous branches. The leaflets, about 2 cm long, are opposite, in a number of 10-12 pairs, light green in color. The pleasantly fragrant flowers are variegated straw yellow in color. Legumes have a curved shape and are indiscriminate.
Tamarind flower and fruits (photo Barbadine)
Tamarind leaves (website photo - Florence Agricultural Technical Institute historical collection)
The fruit pulp is used; suitably purified by dissolving in boiling water, it is then sieved and the liquid obtained is concentrated in a water bath or left to dry in the sun; it contains sucrose, tartaric acid, citric acid, malic acid, potassium tartrate, gummy and resinous substances, starch, etc.
The tamarind pulp can be used for medical use and for the preparation of drinks and syrups (or as dried fruit). The fruits have purgative, refreshing properties and are used in inflammatory gastric fevers, jaundice, dysentery, while the leaves are used in Asia to counteract malarial fevers.