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TAMARIND

Tamarindus indica
synonyms: Tamarindus occidentalis, Tamarindus officinalis, and Tamarindus umbrosa

Tamarindus indica of the family Fabaceae

The genus Tamarindus is monotypic, meaning that it contains only this species (which has the synonyms shown above).

Tamarind is indigenous to tropical Africa and is known primarily for its edible fruit that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which is used in cuisines around the world. It is also used in folk medicine in Africa, and it produces an oil that has various uses. Because it has so many uses tamarind is cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical zones. Also there are numerous cultivars around the world and these produce some variability in the fruit pods, but I don't know what differences they may show in the wood.

The heartwood is a dark red-brown but is small and sometimes not present at all in smaller trees, so you rarely see dark colored (heartwood) tamarind planks because those are from the heartwood of old, large trees (up to 3 feet DBH) and for reasons I'm not aware of such planks are rarely imported to North America. Almost all tamarind sold in the USA is spalted sapwood. In fact, I have never even SEEN any unspalted sapwood and have only rarely seen the dark heartwood planks. The sapwood is cream colored and the spalting is mostly black-line spalting.

The heartwood is durable (rot resistance) but the sapwood is not and it is common to see pieces that have bug damage.

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions


both sides of a heartwood plank of tamarind / Tamarindus indica --- HUGE enlargements are present. I have lost track of where I got this piece and what the provenance is. Because of the width and the fact that it is all heartwood, I am slightly doubtful that it even IS tamarind, but the end grain is consistent with tamarind so I guess it is. The second face was sanded to 240 grit.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a spalted sapwood sample of tamarind / Tamarindus indica --- HUGE enlargements are present. I have lost track of where I got this piece and what the provenance is but I believe it was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of tamarind / Tamarindus indica --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a plank with spalted sapwood and closeups of each side.

I bought the plank directly above, and the rest of the ones from here to the web pics, in the mid-1990's from a normally reliable source, "Curious Hardwoods", the exotic woods division of Curtis Lumber in New York. They did not look like narra to me but I was assured not only that they were narra but that they were specifically Pterocarpus indicus. For a long time, I thought THIS was the correct narra and that a wood I had bought on eBay as narra was in fact something else. I clearly had too much faith in Curtis Lumber. This wood is most emphatically not narra / Pterocarpus indicus and in fact, based on the fine-grain detail shown in the end grain, I am confident that these are all tamarind.


both sides of a plank with spalted sapwood. This was cut from the larger piece directly above and shows heavy blue stain.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE of the other end of the plank directly above


spalted plank (again, cut from the larger plank above)


and end grain and end grain close of the piece directly above


another plank bought from Curtus but this time, not spalted


two closeups of the plank directly above


a small piece cut from the plank directly above and sanded


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

web pics:


spalted tamarind / tararandus indica turning stock with bug holes


spalted slab


spalted tamarind planks, several with bug holes


spalted tamarind turning stock


spalted tamarind pen blanks


various pieces, listed as "black" tamarind, a designation that does not appear in any of my reference books so I assume that's just a vendor's made up name.


splated tamarind bowl blanks


spalted tamarind bowls


pepper mill and bottle opener


table top 3' wide and 7' long, a bench, and a coffee table, all made from spalted tamarind


ear lobe plugs of spalted tamarind


tamarind block used as an end table


spalted tamarind tables. The second one is 34" wide and 8' long