1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tamarind

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TAMARIND. This name is popularly applied to the pods of a leguminous tree, which are hard externally, but within filled with an acid juicy pulp containing sugar and various acids, such as citric and tartaric, in combination with potash. The acid pulp is used as a laxative and a refrigerant, the pods being largely imported both from the East and the West Indies. The tree is now widely distributed in tropical countries, but it is generally considered that its native country is in eastern tropical Africa, from Abyssinia southward to the Zambezi. The name (meaning in Arabic “Indian date”) shows that it entered medieval commerce from India, where it is used, not only for its pulp, but for its seeds, which are astringent, its leaves, which furnish a yellow or a red dye, and its timber. The tree (Tamarindus indica) attains a height of 70 to 80 ft., and bears elegant pinnate foliage and purplish or orange veined flowers arranged in terminal racemes. The flower-tube bears at its summit four sepals, but only three petals and three perfect stamens, with indications of six others. The stamens, with the stalked ovary, are curved away from the petals at their base, but are directed towards them at their apices. The anthers and the stigmas are thus brought into such a position as to obstruct the passage of an insect attracted by the brilliantly-coloured petal, the inference of course being that insect visits are necessary for transference of pollen and the fertilization of the flower.