Bushfood native tamarind Diploglottis australis, with its large velvety leaves, is an attractive rainforest tree that is valued for its prolific sweet-tart fruit.

An involved naming history exists for this species and though Diploglottis australis is the currently accepted name it may also be known as Diploglottis cunninghamii or Large Leaf Tamarind. It is native to temperate and sub topical regions along the east coast with a natural range from Mackay in SE QLD to the Illawarra. A tall slender evergreen tree it can reach up to 30m in the rainforest, but will usually only grow to about 10m in a domestic garden making it a great backyard shade tree. Young trees grow straight up with a small spray of leaves until they reach the forest canopy when they start to branch and make an umbrella-shaped crown of coarse green leaves. The large pinnate leaves, sometimes exceeding 60cm in length, are one of the largest in the Australian rainforest and are the Native Tamarind’s most striking feature. New growth and leaf stalks are covered in attractive velvety bronze teddy-bear fuzz somewhat resembling a kangaroo paw. This relative of the lychee bears prolific edible fruit each season and is habitat for many bird species.


Native Tamarind is reasonably tolerant of urban conditions. It’s best planted in a sheltered position protecting it from strong winds that may damage the large leaflets. Preferably plant among other trees in filtered light or to avoid the western sun, though it will tolerate full sun. When young it is susceptible to cold and frost but once established there is some evidence it copes well with colder temperatures and even light frost.

This striking rainforest plant is also very suitable as an indoor plant. It can be kept small by cutting the stem back and it will happily reshoot. Place near a window with lots of indirect sunlight. Like all indoor plants it benefits from occasional periods outside in rain and filtered sunlight.

Water Use

Water when young as Native Tamarind prefers moist, well-drained soils for optimum growing conditions. Once established, however, it is relatively drought hardy. In winter or periods of low rainfall its natural habit is to drop leaves to conserve water, so watering will keep it dense and shady. If you can’t spare the water once rain comes the canopy will thicken up again. For indoor plants water well and spritz often but don’t let it sit in water as it likes good drainage. In all positions mulch well.

Soil and Fertiliser

Prefers soils with a neutral ph, however is said to tolerate sandy, loamy and clay soils. Some suggestion to fertilise with seaweed and chicken manure.

For indoor plants add slow-release fertiliser in Spring and Autumn.

Flowering and Fruiting

Fairly insignificant creamy flowers form at the leaf base in spring. They are followed by prolific fruiting of large spikes of sour but pleasant fruit in the summer months. The berries, which are two or three-lobed, are roughly 3cm in diameter or about the size of a small fig. They have a yellow-brown hairy outer casing and contain juicy, orange or red, jelly-like edible pulp around a large brown seed.

Pests and Disease

Seed collected from damp ground can be heavily infested with insect grubs.


Propagate from fresh seed. Soak in water overnight to sort out any seed affected by grubs. Seed germination is reliable and fast. The seedling is a stiff, hairy little plant that grows slowly to start but can be quite vigorous once established given optimum conditions.


It takes 5+ years to reach fruiting maturity. Once mature it is a prolific fruiter and fruits will fall from the tree when ripe. Collect as soon as possible as they are a favourite of ants, birds, bats and other garden creatures. The flesh can be removed and frozen until needed.


Very adaptable to shaping and pruning. Left alone they will grow as single-trunked trees but cut them back hard to encourage the formation of multiple trunks and a more bushy habit. Pruning may affect fruiting.

Uses and Properties

For those in the know, Native Tamarind is prized for its fruit. Somewhat similar in taste to Asian Tamarind, the sour but pleasant tasting fruit are extremely high in vitamin C and can be eaten raw or used to make jams, chutneys, cordials and sauces. Delicious on bread or to accompany meats and cheeses. Blend fruit cooked with sugar into a thick syrup to use on ice-cream and yoghurt or to add a lemony flavour to cakes. For those who find the taste too sour, a refreshing drink can be made by boiling the fruits with sugar and water.

Other Benefits

Native Tamarind fruit is very desirable to native wildlife. Flying foxes and bats love the fruit.  It’s an important habitat tree for many species of rainforest birds that eat the fruit and spread the seed, including the Australasian Figbird, Green Catbird, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Crimson Rosella, Satin and Regent Bowerbird. Brush Turkeys will happily clean up fallen fruit from the ground below. It also attracts bees and insects and is a host tree to the pale green triangle butterfly (Graphium eurypylus) as well as for larvae of the Bright Cornelian (Deudorix diovis) butterfly.

This could be a good tree to use in an Australian sensory garden due to its large coarse velvety leaves.


Native Tamarind are available from native plant nurseries, though supplies may be small.

Fruit pulp is also available from some online bushfood suppliers.

But wouldn’t it be nicer to have one of your own?!


Burringbar Rainforest Nursery – Upper Burringbar, NE NSW

Diploglottis australis (SAPINDACEAE) Native Tamarind Save our Waterways Now Ennogera Catchment care, The Gap, QLD http://www.saveourwaterwaysnow.com.au/01_cms/details_pop.asp?ID=151

Dry Rainforest Trees (2016) Toowoomba Plants: Natives of the Region suitable for Gardens https://toowoombaplants2008.blogspot.com/search?q=native+tamarind

Heaton, R (2014) Bush Food for Children of the Northern Rivers : Federal Community Bush Food Living Classroom. Federal Community Children’s Centre, Federal.

The Fruit Gardener (2017) Queensland Bushfood Association.

Tuckerbush (2019) Indoor gardening with native bushfood plants.

Wrigley,J & Fagg, M (2007) Australian Native Plants : Cultivation, Use in Landscaping and Propagation. Reed New Holland, Australia.