Cashew, Anacardium occidentale

tree of the family Anacardiaceae
(Cotinus, Peruvian Pepper tree, Mango tree, Pistachio, Sumac)

Etymology: The name Anacardium refers to the shape of the fruit, which looks like an inverted heart (cardium means heart). In the indigenous language akaju means "yellow head".
Origin: South America, Haiti. 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.
Height: 12 m tall.
Shape: spread crown, ramified branches.
Persistent leaves, spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4 to 22 cm long and 2 to 15 cm broad, with a smooth margin, rich of a milky sap which hardens in air in form of rubber.
Flowers: pale green at first then turning reddish, grouped in inflorescences at the end of the young stems.
Fruit: What appears to be the fruit of the cashew tree is an oval or pear-shaped pulpy accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp or false fruit), white, yellow or red mass with maturity. The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the accessory fruit. This one is called "Cashew"; it is edible although with a bitter-sweet taste.
Use:the fruit of the Cashew produces the "cashew" (by roasting) and the Caribbean oil, caustic oil extracted from the fruit shell. It serves as insulation in aviation. The cashew, undemanding in soil quality, is used in Africa for reforestation.


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