Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Manila tamarind, Blackbead tree, Bread and cheese tree, Madras thorn, Vilayati chinch, Sweet Inga, Quamachil.

+ Tree Species

Pithecellobium dulce

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Manila tamarind originated from a large Central American area, stretching from Southern California to Colombia and Venezuela. It is found on most soil types including clay, limestone, and wet sand with a brackish water-table. The tree is rated highly tolerant to soil salinity and impoverished soils. It however grows best on well-drained, deep, fertile loamy agricultural soils. It is a strong light demander, but can stand a considerable shade. The tree is widely cultivated as an ornamental, shade-providing plant in the tropics. In Kampala, Manila tamarind can be found within Makerere university at Mitchell hall, York terrace among other places.

+ Description

Manila tamarind has a broad and spreading or rounded crown, usually growing from 10 - 15 meters tall, but ranges between 5 and 18 meters with irregular branches up to 30m across. Multiple boles are often formed, these are usually short, generally 30 - 50cm in diameter but up to 100cm.

BARK: grey, becoming rough, furrowed, and eventually peeling.

LEAVES: bipinnate, with 2 pairs of 2 kidney-shaped leaflets each 2-2.5 x 1-2 cm, rather resembling Hardwickia binnata. New leaf growth coincides with the loss of old leaves, giving the tree an evergreen appearance. Thin spines are in pairs at the base of leaves, and range from 2 to 15 mm in length.

FLOWERS: small white heads 1 cm in diameter. Each flower has a hairy corolla and calyx surrounding about 50 thin stamens united in a tube at the base.

FRUIT: Pods are 10-15 x 1.5 cm, the colour becoming spiral and reddish-brown as they ripen. Each pod contains 5-10 shiny black seeds up to 2 cm long.

+ Uses

Edible: the seed and pulp are made into a sweet drink similar to lemonade and also eaten roasted or fresh, the seeds can be eaten fresh in curries, oil is obtained from the seed.

Agroforestry: pods and leaves provide fodder to animals, presscake residue from seed oil extraction may be used as stock feed, used in apiculture (flowers are visited by bees and yield good quality honey), used in reclamation, fixes nitrogen in the soil, can be grown as a boundary tree, forms useful shelter belts, can planted as a hedge.

An ornamental and shade tree

Provides fuel.

Produces tannin which is used to soften leather. It can be extracted from the bark (about 25%), seeds and leaves. The bark is also used to dye fishnets a yellow color.

The wood is used to make drums, matches, can be used in construction and for posts.

The wounded bark exudes a mucilaginous reddish-brown gum somewhat like gum arabic.

Seeds contain a greenish oil (20%), which, after refining and bleaching can be used for food or in the making of soap and can substitute kapok and ground nut seed oils.

Medicine: leaves, bark of the root, fruit pulp, seed, and bark. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Pithecellobium+dulce, http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Pithecellobium_dulce.PDF


+ Propagation

Cuttings, air layering, grafting.

+ Management

Fast-growing. Coppices, trimming, pruning, lopping.

+ Remarks

Manila tamarind is a multipurpose tree. The grey bark and tightly-coiled seed pods are characteristic of this tree, and make it easy to distinguish.

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