Tamarind is native to tropical parts of Africa and Asia. It shows considerable phenotypic variation in morphological and horticultural traits that can be utilized in its genetic improvement. In Kenya, there exists a wide range of tamarind germplasm that has not been characterized. Initial characterization is based on morphological descriptors. The objective of this study is to evaluate morphological diversity of tamarind germplasm from Eastern parts of Kenya. Tamarind germplasms were collected from Kitui, Mwingi, Masinga, Embu and Kibwezi and then characterized using morphological descriptors based on seed, fruit and stem. Morphological characters were recorded and data from eighty-nine accessions were submitted to principal component and hierarchic ascendant analysis (HAC) and Euclidian average distance. Accessions from Kibwezi, Embu and Kitui showed the greatest diversity while accessions from Masinga and Mwingi had the least diversity. Trunk diameter at ground, pod weight, number of seeds/pod, height to the first branch and pod width showed greatest variation in principal component analysis. High morphological diversity obtained in these regions can be used to initiate new breeding and conservation programmes in tamarind for improved fruit and tree crop.
Key words: Tamarind, morphology, diversity, accessions, principle component.
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