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 Anacardium occidentale subsp. var.  Cashew
Cashews ready for harvest
Habit: tree
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Anacardiaceae > Anacardium occidentale var. ,

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The Cashew (Anacardium occidentale; syn. Anacardium curatellifolium A.St.-Hil.) is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to northeastern Brazil, where it is called by its Portuguese name Caju (the fruit) or Cajueiro (the tree). It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew "nuts" (see below) and cashew apples.

'Anacardium occidentale', from Koehler's 'Medicinal-Plants' (1887)
Tree shape

It is a small evergreen tree growing to 10-12 m tall, with a short, often irregularly-shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4-22 cm long and 2-15 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm long, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals 7-15 mm long.

What appears to be the fruit of the cashew tree is an oval or pear-shaped accessory fruit or false fruit that develops from the receptacle of the cashew flower. Called the cashew apple, better known in Central America as "marañón", it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long.

The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the pseudofruit. Actually, the drupe develops first on the tree, and then the peduncle expands into the pseudofruit. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the cashew is a seed. However, the true fruit is classified as a nut by some botanists. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing a caustic phenolic resin, urushiol, a potent skin irritant toxin (also found in the related poison-ivy). Some people are allergic to cashews, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than some other nuts.

Other vernacular names include cajueiro, cashu, casho, acajuiba, caju, acajou, acaju, acajaiba, alcayoiba, anacarde, anacardier, anacardo, cacajuil, cajou, gajus, jocote maranon, maranon, merey, noix d’acajou, pomme cajou, pomme, jambu, jambu golok, jambu mete, jambu monyet, jambu terong, kasoy. In the Antilles, specifically Puerto Rico, it is known as pajuil and the pseudofruit is the main used part as raw fruit.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Anacardium occidentale, Linn. Cashew. A large, spreading tree with milky juice, very impatient of frost, and therefore adaptable only to extreme S. Fla. in the U. S. : Lvs. oval or obovate, rounded, or even emarginate at the top : fls. rosy- tinted, fragrant, in clusters terminating the young branches: nut kidney-shaped or heart- shaped, the size of a large bean, the kernel edible. This nut (about 1 in. long) is borne on a fleshy receptacle (the cashew apple. Fig. 33) which is about 3 in. high when mature, white to yellow and red, and is sweetish-sour and edible. Gn. 11, p. 211.— A vinous liquor is made from the apple. The kernel of the nut yields oil, and is edible when roasted; the shell of the nut is exceedingly acrid, even the fumes from the roasting being highly irritant. The tree yields a gum which is the basis of a varnish, being used to protect books and woodwork from the ravages of white ante and other insects. The tree grows 20-40 ft. high. Sometimes grown under glass in collections of economic plants; prop, then by cuttings of mature wood with Lvs. retained.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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