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A very adaptable species occurring throughout Tanzania in woodland, bushland and thorn bush areas, and in depressions and valleys. T. indica is often found growing along watercourses, ponds, and riverbanks. It does not grow in marshy or stagnant water or clogged soils. It avoids seasonally flooded and waterlogged sites although it may occur on or beside raised microsites such as termite mounds and anthills (Kew 1984). T. indica often occurs in the same conditions as the baobab.

Minimum Altitude (m):


Maximum Altitude (m):


Minimum Rainfall (mm):


Maximum Rainfall (mm):


Minimum Temperature (C):



Soil Requirements: Tolerates a wide range of soils. T. indica grows in coastal sands, rocky soils, wet soils, but it requires well-drained sites. It prefers sandy or deep alluvial soils, with water at depth (RSCU 1992).

Light Requirements: Demanding. It does not appear to regenerate underneath its own canopy (Parrotta 1990).

Influential Factors: Seedlings need to be protected from frost and browsing livestock. The tree is susceptible to fire, and is very sensitive to frost. Many insects attack the fruits and seeds, none causing serious damage (Parkash 1991). It is able to withstand drought.


Means of Propagation: Usually propagated from seed but wildlings, root suckers or cuttings may be used.

Seeds per kg:


Germination Rate (%):


Germination Length:

10 days - 2 months

Seed Sources:

1200 TSH per kg - Tanzania National Seed Centre 1991.

Seed Treatments: Pods are variable, curved and oblong, and about 20 cm in length. They contain from 1 to 10 seeds each, which are connected by tough fibres running through sticky pulp (Dale and Greenway 1961). Seed pods should be collected from healthy trees during the early part of the year. Soak the fruit to remove the pulp, extract seeds from the pods and allow them to air dry before winnowing. Clean, dry seed may be stored in gunny bags in a cool, dry place. No pretreatment is required. The seed germinates readily and grows well in pots.

The Forest Division notes that it is customary in Tanzania to pretreat seed before planting by soaking in cold water for 24 hours, although even with pretreatment germination is irregular and may take up to 2 months (Forest Division 1984). Seed retains its viability for about 6 months (Parkash 1991) but can be stored for more than 2 years if protected from insects (RSCU 1992).

Seedling Management: It is known to coppice and respond to root exposure and injury by root sucker production. These characteristics could be taken advantage of if T. indica were grown for wood and charcoal (Forest Division 1984). Direct sowing is often the best method of propagation (Parkash). Place seeds directly in holes 30 cm deep, 5 cm apart, in lines that are 4 to 5 m apart. It may also be sown in patches with 8 to 10 seeds per patch.

Other reports indicate that the viability is relatively good and that seeds can be directly sown in nursery beds or open ground (FAO 1983).


Planting Types: Recommended for planting in the interior lowlands and wetter parts of the semiarid zone in Tanzania. It is popular for agroforestry in Tanzania. T. indica is not recommended as a shade tree due to allelopathic effects on understorey plants (Parrotta 1990). It is used along roads and for boundary plantings.

Growth Factors: Grows slowly, but is considered a promising species in Dodoma. Fruit yields of 150 to 200 kg per year per tree (12 to 16 tonnes per ha) have been reported (Forest Division 1984).

Growth Cycle: Tamarind begins flowering and fruiting from 6 to 15 years of age, producing abundant fruit crops almost every year thereafter. The tree is long lived, over 200 years in some cases (Forest Division 1984). The suggested rotation for timber is 50 to 60 years. Fruits are edible in June and July.

Management Systems: Outplant when the rainy season begins. It should not be planted in low areas where the roots may become waterlogged. In some countries it is planted at a spacing of 5×5 m, which may be thinned to 10×10 m as the trees mature; linear spacing is 10 to 15 m (Parkash 1991). It is used also as a firebreak and planted at spacings of 2.5×2.5 m or 3×3 m for firewood plantations. Weeding is required during the first year, with hoeing around the trees until they are well-established. Plantations may be established by direct sowing along cleared lines (Parrotta 1990). It coppices well.


Use #1: FRUIT
It is eaten by people either directly, as a condiment, or as a drink. The fruits are sold in the market in Dodoma. It is an excellent source of vitamin B (thiamine and niacin) and contains small amounts of carotene and vitamin C (Parrotta 1990).

The tree has many medicinal uses in Tanzania. The fruit pulp is used as a laxative, the bark is used to cure sore throats, the leaves are used for stomach problems, and the roots are used to treat heart pains. Crushed leaves are put on wounds and abscesses. Juice from crushed leaves is taken with porridge to stop vomiting.

The wood is hard, heavy, and dark brown. It is difficult to work but easy to polish and termite resistant. It is used to make furniture; as a timber; to make domestic items such as tool handles, pestles and mortars; for fence posts; and boats. It is also regarded as a good firewood and charcoal.

OTHER USES: The flowers are reported to make good honey (Parrotta 1990). Ash, which is rich in tannin, is used for tanning hides. The tree is host of one of the wild silkworms (Hypsiodes vuillitti joannis).


It is one of the most widely used trees in its range and should receive more attention in forestry and research activities.

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