The Tamarind or Asam is a slow-growing and medium-sized tree that can reach 12 m to 30 m tall. It has beautiful fine-textured leaves and a round-shaped crown. It is native to Africa, and grows best in well-draining soil.
Tamarindus is monotypic, meaning that there is only one species in this genus (i.e., Tamarindus indica). The name of the genus Tamarindus is derived from the Arabic phrase at-tamr al-hindi meaning ‘date of India’, which refers to its fruit. The specific epithet indica suggests its origins to be from India.
The Tamarind bears brown fruit pods containing several flat hard seeds enveloped by a juicy pulp. Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri) have been seen feeding on the fruit. The sweet-sour pulp is known as tamarind or asam. The species is widely cultivated for this pulp, which is used in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine to impart tart flavours in curries and fish dishes. Tamarind is also an ingredient in another popular and famous food item, Worcestershire sauce. Sweet tamarind, which is produced by cultivated varieties of the tree from Thailand, can also be found in markets.
This beautiful Tamarind tree on the grounds of the Istana had a girth of 3.5 m when it was endorsed as a Heritage Tree in 2018.