, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 299-309

Quantitative morphological descriptors confirm traditionally classified morphotypes of Tamarindus indica L. fruits

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This study used quantitative descriptors to assess morphological variation of traditionally classified tamarind fruits and its relation to ecological conditions. Tamarind trees were sampled spanning locally recognized fruit morphotypes within three ecological zones. Twelve morphological descriptors were measured on 3000 fruits and seeds. Univariate and canonical discrimiant analyses performed on morphological descriptors revealed significant differences and confirmed morphotypes distinction as perceived by local people. Nevertheless, the variance components analysis showed substantial variations within morphotypes, suggesting a significant heterogeneity within fruits traditionally classified as belonging to the same morphotypes. To get a more powerful morphological discrimination, quantitative descriptors should hence be combined with locally perceived qualitative traits (pulp taste and colour). Observed variations were significantly correlated with ecological factors. Fruits’ and seeds’ size and mass tended to increase with humidity and decline with aridity. Results also indicated that fruit mass is a good predicator of pulp yield, although its predicting power differed among morphotypes. Outputs from the variance component analysis suggested that pending further genetic studies, germplasm collection should be done by sampling a moderate number of trees per morphotype, to ensure capturing a wide range of genetic diversity. The observed extensive variation has provided with relevant information for further improvement programs.