Online Manual for the Forest Tree Seeds of Kerala

A Kerala Forest Department Funded Project

Dr. K Sudhakara
Professor & Head of the Department
Dept. of Silviculture & Agroforestry
College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur 680 656
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Scientific Name  Tamarindus indica Linn.
Vernacular name  Kolpuli, Valanpuli, Puli (Malayalam), Pulia-maram (Tamil) (Chacko et al., 2002), Amlika, Tintiri (Sanskrit), Amli, Imli (Hindi ) (Bose et al., 1998).
Common name  Tamarind tree (Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998).
Synonyms  Tamarindus occidentalis Gaertn., Tamarindus officinalis Hook. (Chacko et al., 2002).
Family  Leguminosae (Fabaceae).
Subfamily  Caesalpinioideae
Distribution  This is not a forest species, but is a reforestation species in dry deciduous and thorn forests of the southern state. It is extensively planted along avenues and in open lands for its valuable fruits. The tamarind is believed to be a native of tropical Africa and probably also to some parts of South India, but it is grown in almost all tropical countries, particularly in Asia and Africa (Bose et al., 1998; FRI, 1983; Chacko et al., 2002).
Description  A large, handsome, slow growing tree reaching a height of 30 m and a breast height diameter of 159 cm with short, stout trunk and more or less evergreen in nature (Chacko et al., 2002; Bose et al., 1998).
Flowering season  April - June / Sept - Oct, April to May (Bourdillon, 1908).
Fruiting season  Appears in winter and ripens in spring (February - April) March to April (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002), February to March (Bourdillon, 1908).
Flowers  Flowers in small lax racemes from all over the branches, up to 10 cm long, drooping; calyx segments 4; petals 3; unequal, the lower 2 reduced to scales, yellow, reddish-tinged; perfect stamens 3, united to the middle (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruits  Pods linear-oblong, 7.5 -20 cm by 2.5 cm, cinnamom - brown, plump and slightly curved, subcompressed, indehiscent with constrictions, brittle epicarp, pithy greenish inside white ripe and becomes brown pulpy later (Bose et al., 1998; Chacko et al., 2002).
Fruit type  Pod.
Seeds  3-10, 1.3 cm in diameter, irregularly shaped, with hard dark brown or black shining smooth testa; embedded in reddish brown edible acid pulp (Luna, 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed length  1.22 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed width  1 cm (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  1450/kg; 700 to 2600 seeds/kg (Kindt et al.,1997; Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed dispersal  Animals (Especially monkeys).
Seed Collection  The mature ripe fruits are knocked off the tree (Chacko et al., 2002).
Transportation of seeds  No special care is needed (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed processing  Break open the fruits with wooden stick and extract the seed by hand (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed storage  Recalcitrant (Kindt et al.,1997). Seeds are sun-dried and stored for about 4 months (Chacko et al., 2002).
Viability period  Seeds retain viability for about 4 months (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed emptiness  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Seed pre treatment  Soak the seeds in cold water for 24 hrs or seeds are treated with cow's urine (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination type  Epigeous (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination percentage  90 (Chacko et al., 2002).
Germination period  5 to 30 days (Luna 1996; Chacko et al., 2002).
Nursery technique  Pre treated seeds are sown in germination trays filled with vermiculite and watered regularly. Seedlings are transplanted into polythene bags of size 22.5 x 17.5 cm filled with soil (Chacko et al., 2002).
Method of propagation  By seeds or cuttings.
Vegetative propagation 
Pests  Seeds are damaged by bruchid beetles (Chacko et al., 2002).
Diseases  Low (Chacko et al., 2002).
Medicinal properties  The leaves are applied to reduce inflammatory, swelling and ring worm. The bark is tonic and astringent; the leaves reduce inflammation; the flowers are effective to cure conjunctivitis; the seeds are used to cure dysentery and the pulp has laxative property (Bose et al., 1998).
Uses  Wood used for wheel making and as fire wood. Seeds are fed to cattles and give an amber coloured oil which is made into a varnish to paint idols. Leaves give a red dye. The acidic pulp is used in curries and pickles. The wood is an excellent firewood. The fruits are chiefly used as souring agent in foods. The seeds are used in the jam, jelly, and confectionery industries. The plant has many medicinal uses (Chacko et al., 2002).
Wood properties  Sapwood yellowish white turning to greyish brown on ageing; heartwood irregular dark purplish, very small; hard to very hard, heavy to very heavy, moderately straight grained to interlocked and wavy grained and medium coarse textured. Pores moderate sized, uniform, each pore or group of pores surrounded by round patches of soft tissue. Rays very fine and numerous (Bourdillon, 1908).
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