Cashew: Wikis


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Cashews ready for harvest in Guinea-Bissau
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Anacardium
Species: A. occidentale
Binomial name
Anacardium occidentale

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. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew "nuts" (see below) and cashew apples.


Habitat and growth

'Anacardium occidentale', from Koehler's 'Medicinal-Plants' (1887)
Worldwide cashew yield
Cashew tree

It is a small evergreen tree growing to 10-12m (~32 ft) tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4 to 22 cm long and 2 to 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 to 15 mm long.

What appears to be the fruit of the cashew tree is an oval or pear-shaped accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp 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. It is edible, and has a strong "sweet" smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport.

The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the accessory fruit. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the peduncle expands into the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing a dermatogenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the more well known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Some people are allergic to cashew nuts, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than nuts or peanuts.[citation needed]


While native to Brazil, the Portuguese took the cashew plant to Goa, India, between the years of 1560 and 1565. From there it spread throughout Southeast Asia and eventually Africa. The first country to import the cashew nuts from India was the United States in 1905.[1]


Medicine and industry

Cashew nuts, salted

The cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL), a by-product of processing cashew, is mostly composed of anacardic acids.[2] These acids have been used effectively against tooth abscesses due to their lethality to gram-positive bacteria. They are also active against a wide range of other gram-positive bacteria. Many parts of the plant are used by the Patamona of Guyana medicinally. The bark is scraped and soaked overnight or boiled as an antidiarrheal. Seeds are ground up into powders used for antivenom for snake bites. The nut oil is used topically as an antifungal and for healing cracked heels.[citation needed]

Anacardic acid is also used in the chemical industry for the production of cardanol, which is used for resins, coatings, and frictional materials.[2]


Cashew nuts, roasted and salted

The cashew nut is a popular snack, and its rich flavor means that it is often eaten on its own, lightly salted or sugared. Cashew nuts are sold covered in chocolate, but due to their higher price compared to peanuts and almonds, cashews are not as common in candy except from higher quality manufacturers.

Cashew nuts also factor in Thai cuisine and Chinese cuisine, generally in whole form, and in Indian cuisine, often ground into sauces such as shahi korma, and also used as garnish in Indian sweets and desserts. The cashew nut can also be used in cheese alternatives for vegans, typically in homemade cheese recipes.

In Malaysia, the young leaves are often eaten raw as salad or with sambal belacan (shrimp paste mixed with chili and lime).

In Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular all across the country. Additionally, visitors to northeastern areas such as Fortaleza will often find cashew nut vendors selling the nuts for low cost, salted in a plastic bag upon purchase.

In the Philippines, cashew is a known product of Antipolo, and is eaten with suman. Pampanga also has a sweet dessert called turrones de casuy which is cashew marzipan wrapped in white wafer.


In Goa, India, the cashew apple (the accessory fruit) is mashed and mixed with water and sugar and used to make fenny (feni, a popular liquor) by fermentation.

In the southern region of Mtwara, Tanzania, the cashew apple (bibo in Kiswahili) is dried and saved. Later it is reconstituted with water and fermented, then distilled to make a strong liquor often referred to by the generic name, Gongo.

In Mozambique it is very common among the cashew farmers to make a strong liquor from the cashew apple which is called "agua ardente" (burning water). The sale of this can often provide a small additional income to widows and single mothers, selling the liquor per cup, per bottle or per jerry can.

Common names

cashew nuts, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,314 kJ (553 kcal)
Carbohydrates 30.19 g
Sugars 5.91 g
Dietary fiber 3.3 g
Fat 43.85 g
Protein 18.22 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) .42 mg (32%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) .06 mg (4%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 1.06 mg (7%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) .86 mg (17%)
Vitamin B6 .42 mg (32%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 25 μg (6%)
Vitamin C .5 mg (1%)
Calcium 37 mg (4%)
Iron 6.68 mg (53%)
Magnesium 292 mg (79%)
Phosphorus 593 mg (85%)
Potassium 660 mg (14%)
Zinc 5.78 mg (58%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Acajaiba, acajé (Tupi), acajou, acajuiba, akažu (Slovenian), alcayoiba, anacarde, anacardier, anacardo, cacajuil, cajou, caju (Portuguese), cajueiro, cajuilcasho, cashu, castaña de cajú, gajus (Malay), godambi (Kannada), gonku (Tulu), hạt điều (Vietnamese), indijski orah (Serbian), indijski orešček, jambu, jambu golok, jambu mente, jambu monyet, jambu terong, jeedi pappu (Telugu), jocote de marañón, kacang mede, kacang mete (Indonesian), kadju (Sinhala), kajjubee (Konkani), kaju (Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Urdu), kasoy (Tagalog), kasuvandi parippu (Malayalam), korosho (Kiswahili), mamuang himmaphan (มะม่วงหิมพานต์) (Thai), marañón (Spanish), merey, mundhiri paruppu (Tamil), noix d’acajou (French), pajuil, pomme, pomme cajou, sarsgorilla.

See also

  • Wild Cashew - the species Anacardium excelsum.
  • Anacardium giganteum, also known as Wild Cashew, used medicinally.
  • Semecarpus anacardium, (the Oriental Anacardium) is a native of India and is closely related to the cashew.


Cashew Fruit- Stages of Development

Further reading


  1. ^ "Cajucultura". Retrieved February 2 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Alexander H. Tullo (September 8, 2008). "A Nutty Chemical". Chemical and Engineering News 86 (36): 26–27. 
  3. ^ "Comprehensive book on cashew industry released". The Hindustan Times. 21 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 

External links

Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Anacardium
Species: A. occidentale
Binomial name
Anacardium occidentale

The cashew is a tropical tree in the flowering plant. The plant is native to northeastern Brazil. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew "nuts" (see below) and cashew apples.

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