Tamarind – Food Forest Permaculture


Tamarind is a traditional food in many countries, but I myself had never paid much attention to them.  These trees are amazing trees in that they are both fast growing and highly wind resistant.  Usually fast growing trees have weak wood which breaks easily.



Pros of Tamarind Trees

  • Fruit can be left on the tree for extended period of time (should be)
  • Fertilizer and water input are unnecessary, but it does respond well to them with flourishing growth at every input (nearly a foot each time)
  • Eventually will be a large shade tree.
  • Can be positioned to block and lower hurricane force winds to protect structures.
  • Looks like it will be a fun tree to climb when older (be safe!)
  • It’s cool because it closes its leaves at night!

Tamarind Tree Uses

Tamarind pulp – Tangy like a piece of candy that grows on a tree.  The fruits themselves are higher in antioxidants than avocado, jackfruit, longan, and mango according to Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of selected fruit seeds.  Most of these antioxidants, however, were contained in the seeds!

Tamarind Seeds – Seeds are roasted to remove their tough outer shell (the article above suggests peak antioxidants are achieved at 320F)  I am unsure for now as to how long to cook them.  If you know, leave a comment!  Despite roasting, they are still difficult to chew.



Personal Experience

Our tamarind tree has been a vigorous grower and in 1.5 years has easily grown 5 times over.  Every time this tree gets the slightest amount of fertilizer, it has a flush of growth adding about 6 inches to its canopy in all directions.

It seems to harbor a pest called the Sri Lanka Weevil, aka, the Asian Gray Weevil.  It looks like a 1 cm white beetle Tamarind, grow your own food forestthat drops to the ground when you disturb the tree.  I found very little information on this little annoyance.  It seems to prefer to live in the leaves of the tamarind, but will eat them if other food sources are not there.  They seem to have no natural predator.  Malathion does not kill the Sri Lankan Weevil but it irritates them enough to make them leave certain trees alone (otherwise they would completely defoliate their favorites).  My primary control method has been removing them and crushing them manually.

Our tamarind had a few flowers its first few months at our house but never made fruit.  During the second season, there were about 40 flowers and we have 3 well developed fruit on the tree as of January 2016.  We are waiting until they dry out on the tree to harvest.

Propagation of Tamarind Trees

Air Layering- This is the method I would use to propagate.

Grafting – A possibility, but not sure what you would use for rootstock.

Seeds – The seed coat is incredible hard.  Scarification would absolutely be necessary

Future Plans

I may consider planting a second tamarind, but I would buy one rather than making a clone because most sources suggest that tamarinds benefit greatly from cross pollination.  Putting a picnic table under this beauty.

Cons of Tamarind Trees

  • Sri Lanka Weevil aka Asian Grey Weevil habitat
  • Cross pollination suggested for increased fruit yield
  • Large tree if you don’t have much land




Conclusion

This is a great tree for any food forest..  5 out ot 5 stars for the lack of care needed and soon to be great shade tree and wind break.  Explore other fruit trees for a food forest.

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