MacDaniels, Laurence H. Horticultural Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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A medium-sized, spreading evergreen tree (Anacardium occidentale), native to Brazil, which is grown widely in the tropics for its kidney-shaped edible nuts and the resinous oil in the shells. Cashews belong to the family Anacardiaceae in the order Sapindales. The fruit consists of a fleshy, red or yellow, pear-shaped receptacle, termed the apple [2–3.5 in. (5–8.9 cm) in length], at the distal end of which is borne a hard-shelled, kidney-shaped ovary or nut (see illustration); this nut is approximately 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) in length. The shell of this nut is about 0.12 in. (3 mm) in thickness and consists of a smooth, relatively thin outer layer (exocarp) and an inner hard layer (endocarp). Between these layers is a porous layer (mesocarp), which is filled with a caustic black liquid that blisters the skin and makes the processing of the nut difficult. See also: Allergy; Fruit; Nut crop culture; Sapindales; Tree
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