Tamarind is a slow-growing, massive tree that can reach a height of 80 or even 100 ft (24-30 m), spread a crown of 40 ft (12 m) and develop a very large trunk of 25 ft (7.5 m) in circumference.
It is a long-lived tree with high resistance to wind dark-gray and rough bark and strong, supple branches that are gracefully drooping at the ends. The mass of bright-green, fine, feathery foliage is composed of pinnate leaves, each having 10 to 20 pairs of oblong leaflets, which fold at night. The leaves are normally evergreen but may shed briefly in very dry areas during the hot season. Inconspicuous, inch-wide flowers, borne in small racemes, are 5-petalled (2 reduced to bristles), yellow with orange or red streaks. The flower buds are distinctly pink due to the outer color of the 4 sepals, which are shed when the flower opens. The fruits are curved and bulged pods, borne in great abundance along the new branches. The pods are cinnamon-brown or grayish-brown and tender-skinned with green, highly acid flesh and soft, whitish and under-developed seeds. As they mature, the pods fill out and the juicy, acidulous pulp turns brown or reddish-brown. Than, the skin becomes a brittle, easily cracked shell and the pulp dehydrates naturally to a sticky paste enclosed by a few coarse strands of fiber. The seeds are hard, glossy-brown and each is enclosed in a parchment like membrane.