Tamarindus indica

Family: Fabaceae (Caesalpinoideae)

This is known as mkwaju in Swahili and tamarind in English.

This tree is found scattered in heavily wooded habitats. It grows very large with a dense, rounded crown. The leaves are made up of many feathery leaflets, which are bright green when young and turn a characteristic grass-green. The red flower buds and leaf scales (bracts) can also be used to identify the species. Its flowers are quite small and variable in colour. They are followed by 10-20cm long rounded, curved brown pods, which mature at the end of the dry season.

The dark timber is very hard and can be used for boat building and also for charcoal. However, this is not considered a timber species in Kilwa District. The main product of this tree is the acidic edible pulp. Some trees yield much better quality pods than others in terms of volume, acidity and the stringiness of the pulp. The fruit sometimes are sold in Tanzanian markets and are widely eaten by children. Improved varieties are used in other countries, notably India, to make a variety of foodstuffs.