Despite the delicate looking leaves, Tamarind bonsai trees are very sturdy. They tolerate heavy pruning, extensive root manipulation, wiring and even a little neglect.
Tamarind, Tamarindus indica, trees are readily available in the tropics and make wonderful bonsai subjects.
They most often grow as an upright tree (especially from seed or as nursery stock.)
This makes it a very good subject for the formal upright style.
The tree shown here to the right was one I created from a very tall tree in a nursery container.
However, as you can see from other photos on this page, some are perfect for other styles.
In some areas, the Tamarind grows wild and artists have the opportunity to collect them from nature.
Tamarindus indica is indigenous to Africa, and is widespread throughout the tropics. It is one of the most widely distributed tropical fruit trees in the world.
In nature it is slow growing and reaches heights of 40 to 60 feet.
The fruit or “pods” are used for seasoning everything from soups to jams.
You may be familiar with one very popular use - Worcestershire sauce.
In all the time I had my tree, it never produced flowers.
When they do, they are beautiful.
Every year Jim Stopfer from Long Island, New York, proudly sends me photos of his Tamarind in full bloom.
The deep furrows in the bark of Tamarind bonsai trees appear at an early age, and continue to develop with time.
The "fruit" is a brown somewhat flat, bean or pod. They most often appear on new branches. The pods are average 5 inches long. If you prune your tree frequently it may not bloom or fruit.
Flowers are a little less than one inch-wide, cream colored with orange and red streaks. The buds have a vibrant pink color which falls away as it goes into full bloom.
SpecimenTamarindus indica by Gede Merta - Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
Although foliage can be trimmed any time of year, spring is the best time to remove branches for bonsai styling.
New growth will need frequent pruning during summer.
Roots should be pruned during periods of warm nights - 55 degrees F (13 C) or more.
This Tamarind bonsai was created by Willis Panell, Puerto Rico.
The tree is 23" tall with a 26" canopy.
It has been in training since 1998, the year it was collected.
Photo used with permission.
Aphids on new growth and powdery mildew (especially in humid environments) are possible problems. Powdery mildew is a type of plant fungus and can easily be treated with a fungicide.
Over watering, can cause leaf drop as well as branch die-back. With a coarse, fast draining bonsai soil, this should not be a problem.
Otherwise, the Tamarind is susceptible to very few pests and/or diseases.
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