Manila tamarind (Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth.) is a small to medium-sized semi-evergreen leguminous tree, 5 to 20 m high (Ecocrop, 2011; FAO, 2011). Manila tamarind is a fast growing tree that may reach a height of 10 m in 5-6 years in favourable conditions (Duke, 1983). Manila tamarind has a short, stout, greyish trunk (30-100 cm in diameter) that bears low irregular branches and forms a broad crown (Ecocrop, 2011; FAO, 2011). The leaves are paripinnate with 4 leaflets (2.0-3.5 cm long x 1.0-1.5 cm wide). Small thorns (2.0-15.0 mm long) are inserted on each side of the leaf pedicels, though some varieties are thornless. While tree appears evergreen, the leaflets are deciduous and shed in succession. The inflorescences are axillary panicles which bear spherical glomerules (1 cm in diameter) of small, white-greenish, slightly flagrant flowers. Fruits are greenish-brown to red-pinkish, indehiscent pods. Pods are rather thin, 10-15 cm long x 1-2 cm wide, and set in a spiral of 1 to 3 whorls. The pods contain 10 seeds. The seeds are flattened, black and shiny (1 cm in diameter) (FAO, 2011).
Manila tamarind is a multipurpose tree. Its pods are edible and contain a thick sweetish acidic pulp. They can be eaten raw or processed into a soft drink similar to lemonade. Oil can be extracted from the seeds and is used for cooking or for making soaps (FAO, 2011).
Manila tamarind oil meal, pods and leaves are useful livestock feeds. The by-product of oil extraction is a protein-rich meal (30% protein) that can be fed to animals. Pods are also relished by all classes of livestock and Manila tamarind leaves can withstand heavy browsing. It is commonly browsed by horses, cattle, goats and sheep (NAS, 1980). In some places in Latin America, Manila tamarind is one of the most important browse species and is primarily used as a fodder during the dry season (FAO, 2011; Le Houérou, 1980).
Manila tamarind provides valuable hardwood timber for construction, paneling, boxes and posts but should not be used for fuel since it is very smoky. The tree is planted for shade, shelter, thorny hedges and as an ornamental tree (Ecocrop, 2011).