(Eleiodoxa conferta)

Tamarind plum tree

Family: Arecaeae

Other names: Asam paya, kelumi, salak hutan

Tamarind plum is a fruit from South East Asia.  It grows from Southern Thailand to Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Sumatra to Borneo.  It is a plant of freshwater swamps.

            Tamarind plum is a highly gregarious plant and forms large colonies in the areas that are abundant in peat swamp forests having some water movement..


A clustering palm with underground stem, that can grow up to 8 m tall;  tends to form dense thickets.

            Leaves large and pinnate, with an arching appearance when it radiate from the underground stem; rachis and petiole are covered with 5-7 cm long spines, arranged in whorls along their entire length.

Flowers of tamarind plum

            Inflorescence branched, emerging from the ground.

            Fruits pear shaped, distinctively scaly, 2.5 cm long and wide, turning from green to reddish brown at maturity.


Tamarind palm is a very multipurpose tree and is widely used by local people throughout its range.  T he fruits are processed into sweets, sour mix vegetables, mixed salad, sauce or raw materials. Often the fruit is found being sold in local markets.  In Sumatra and Kalimantan, people use tamarind plum fruits as a raw material for making sweets.  This is done by peeling the fruit is old and mature. Soak the fruit in a solution of salt, one pound of fruit needed for 150 g of sugar and 2 tablespoons of table salt.

Tamarind plum fruits

            A decoction of the fruit wall is used as a treatment against coughs. The leaves are used for thatching and are woven into mats.

A cut fruit of Tamarind plum showing edible pulp

            Apical buds of tamarind palm are harvested for being used as a vegetable.  This is done by the people in spite of being quite difficult task.


Tamarind plum fruits are still collected from the wild only in spite of their being widely used by people.

            As it is a plant of swamp, so it may not grow on ordinary fields.  That is one reason behind lack of extension of its domestication and commercial cultivation.