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Friday, September 7, 2018

Tamarind in Las Vegas?

Q. My husband really wants to plant a tamarind tree from seed. My question: is this doable here? I know it can get to be a very big tree but he says he will see to it that it’s pruned well. Being a tropical tree, will it survive our winter and adapt to our climate when established? As my backyard is not that big, we will be planting it about 10 ft from the house. I am concerned that its litter will be problematic when it gets to be as tall as the lower part of my roof, like the wind blowing it’s fine leaves into the nooks and crevices of the roof tiles (that’s why we removed our mesquite). My husband is from Cavite, Philippines, and this is one tree he misses a lot.

These are our tamarind tree at our farm in the Philippines. Tamarind is a tropical tree that will not survive very cold temperatures as we find in most of the US. There is a  sweet and sour form of this tree. They begin to flower and produce fruit from pods when they are about 8 years old. This one is about 7 years old and I pruned it last year.

A. Forget the tamarind tree in Las Vegas if you want a consistent production. It is tropical and will not survive undamaged or it will die during a cold winter in Las Vegas when temperatures drop below freezing. If it does survive the first few years, its because of a lack in winter freezing, it will get damaged or even die when it does freeze. 

The extent of damage depends on how cold it gets, for how long and the age of the tree.  We have tamarind on our farm in Batangas (I am here now and can see it from here) but it is truly tropical. It will not produce any pods for about 8 years if planted from seed. Our tamarind is now flowering and fruiting because it is 8 years old. Pick a tree that will survive the cold. 

It would be a shame if you were to plant it and it gets four years old, big and then there is a freeze. You might lose the entire tree and it does not sucker well from the base as some other tropical trees can like horseradish tree (Malungay).which can be cut close to the ground and it will sucker..

It is better suited to warmer dry climates like the warmer, dry Sonoran Desert. For more information on Tamarind growing in the US try the Rare Fruit Growers fact sheet on it. Click here.

Cause of Double-Headed Date Palm

Q. Here's a fascinating palm tree photo I've taken in Las Vegas of a date palm, a monocot,  bifurcating at about 30' above the ground into a dicot. There are several of these bifurcated  date palms in the same parking lot. What is the reason?

A. I will post it with an explanation. It is not common but occasionally things like this occur when the terminal bud is damaged but not killed and regrowth from the terminal bud creates multiple new growing points. It has such strong terminal growth that it created two instead of more. Sometimes it creates only one new one. The alternative would have been death of the entire palm. What caused the damage? Who knows. Bugs, disease…physical damage during transport…