Morphological and nutritional characteristics of Tamarindus Indica (LINN) fruits in Uganda
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An evaluation of morphological and nutritional characteristics of Tamarindus indica L. (Fabaceae) pod pulp and seeds was carried out on samples from three agro-ecological zones (West Nile, Eastern and Lake Victoria Crescent) in Uganda. A total of 2,880 sample pods (24 pods/tree) was collected and analysed. The morphological characteristics of pods (length, breadth, mass, seed number and mass) as well as pulp were analysed. The mean values of T. indica morphological characteristics were higher in the Lake Victoria Crescent zone samples and fallow land use types than other zones’ samples. The samples from West Nile zone had the highest maximum pod length values, mean and standard deviations than other agro-ecological zones. The mineral elements in the samples decreased in the order: Mg > Ca > Na > Fe > K > P > Zn. The samples from the Lake Victoria Crescent zone (fallow land use type) had higher mineral levels than the other zones and land use types. In terms of proximate and physico-chemical content, relatively higher values were recorded for moisture, ash, protein, fibre, oil, carbohydrates, vitamin C and beta carotene compared to studies documented elsewhere. The differences in the morphological characteristics between agro-ecological zones and land use types calls for the recommendation of both pulp and seeds for consumption, domestication, commercialisation and species improvement. Tamarindus indica growing in the fallow land use type is recommended for retention on farm, future research development, promotion for consumption and commercialisation. The high level of ash in T. indica shows that it can not only be used as the sole source of ash for human and animal consumption, but can also be incorporated in diet.