Description: The tamarind is a large, densely branched tree. It grows up to 25 meters (75 feet) tall. Its has pinnate leaves (divided like a feather) with 10 to 15 pairs of leaflets.
Habitat and Distribution: The tamarind grows in the drier parts of Africa, Asia, and the Philippines. Although it is thought to be a native of Africa, it has been cultivated in India for so long that it looks like a native tree. It is also found in the American tropics, the West Indies, Central America, and tropical South America.
Edible Parts: The pulp surrounding the seeds is rich in vitamin C and is an important survival food. You can make a pleasantly acid drink by mixing the pulp with water and sugar or honey and letting the mixture mature for several days. Suck the pulp to relieve thirst. Cook the young, unripe fruits or seedpods with meat. Use the young leaves in soup. You must cook the seeds. Roast them above a fire or in ashes. Another way is to remove the seed coat and soak the seeds in salted water and grated coconut for 24 hours, then cook them. You can peel the tamarind bark and chew it.
All text and images from the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70: Survival.
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