It grows in dense forests in Africa along the southern edge of the Sahel. In Togo it is called atchethewh.
The velvet tamarind can be found in West African countries such as Ghana where it is known as Yoyi, Sierra Leone where it is known as “black tombla”, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau where because of its texture is called "Veludo", Portuguese for velvet, and Nigeria where it is known as Awin or "Igbaru" in Yoruba, Icheku in Igbo and Tsamiyar kurm in Hausa.
The bark and leaves have medicinal properties and are used against several diseases.
Each fruit typically has one hard, flat, round, brown seed, typically 7-8 millimeters across and 3 millimeters thick. The seed somewhat resembles a watermelon seed (Citrullus lanatus). Some have two seeds. The seeds are shiny, coated with a thin layer of starch.
The pulp is edible and may be eaten raw or soaked in water and consumed as a beverage. The bitter leaves are ingredients in a Ghanaian dish called domoda.
Wood is hard and heavy and used for construction. The wood is also used for firewood and charcoal production