MacDaniels, Laurence H. Horticultural Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Last reviewed:June 2021
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A medium-sized, spreading evergreen tree (Anacardium occidentale), which is grown widely in the tropics for its kidney-shaped edible nuts (also called cashews) and the resinous oil in the shells of the nuts. Cashew trees, which are native to Brazil, belong to the family Anacardiaceae in the order Sapindales. The cashew fruit consists of a fleshy, red or yellow, pear-shaped receptacle, termed the apple [5–9 cm (2–3.5 in.) in length], which bears a hard-shelled, kidney-shaped ovary or nut (see illustration) at its distal end; this nut is approximately 3.8 cm (1.5 in.) in length. The shell of a cashew nut is about 3 mm (0.12 in.) 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 causes the processing of the nut to be difficult. See also: Fat and oil (food); Fruit; Nut crop culture; Sapindales; Tree
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