Tamarind Bonsai Trees

Tamarind bonsai trees give the appearance of age, even as young trees. They're especially noted for the delicate leaves and deep, rough, furrowed bark.  Despite the delicate looking leaves, the Tamarind is very sturdy. They tolerate heavy pruning, extensive root manipulation, wiring and even a little neglect.

Tamarind bonsai tree created from nursery stock by Mary C MillerTamarindus indica

They most often grow as an upright tree. This makes it a very good subject for the formal upright style.  

The tree shown above was created from a 6 foot (1.83m) tall tree in a nursery container.  After literally sawing the tree in half, it took several tries to get the  perfect apex.  The sketch to the right shows how this bonsai would look if the first branch was removed. ((Eventually, the first branch was removed.)

Tamarindus indica, are readily available as fruit trees in the tropics.  In some countriesthis tree grows wild and artists have the opportunity to collect them. 

It most often grows as an upright tree. This makes it a very good subject for the formal upright style.  

Eddie Tan, lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where Tamarind trees are numerous and often used for bonsai.

The trunk movement here, encouraged a less formal style including movement in the branches.  A beautiful interpretation.

Although it grows in many areas of the tropical world, Tamarindus indica is indigenous to Africa. 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.

Tamarind Attributes

tamarind bonsai tree flowers
tamarind bonsai tree flower looks like small orchid

Every year Jim Stopfer from Long Island, New York, proudly sends me photos of his Tamarind in full bloom.  Amazing! 

The fragrant flowers resemble small orchids!  The new buds have a vibrant pink color which falls away as it goes into full bloom. They are about one inch-wide, cream colored with orange and red streaks. 

tamarind bonsai tree rough bark

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, (plump when ripe) bean or pod. They most often appear on new branches. The pods are average 5 inches long.

If you prune your tree too frequently, it may not bloom or fruit.

<em>Tamarindus indica</em> by Gede Merta - Bali, IndonesiaTamarindus indica by Gede Merta - Bali, Indonesia

Pruning Tamarind Bonsai Trees
- Leaves, Branches and Roots

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.)

Tamarind Bonsai Tree in Puerto Rico

This yamadori 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.

In Puerto Rico Tamarind trees grow in the wild and are often collected for bonsai. 

Few Potential Problems

Aphids on new growth and powdery mildew (especially in humid environments) are possible problems. 

Powdery mildew occurs occasionally and is a type of plant fungus. It can easily be treated with a fungicide. If the mildew is mild, sometimes defoliation will resolve the problem.

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.

Where to Go From Here

Beginners have success with Tamarind bonsai trees, see other Beginner Bonsai Trees

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