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Anacardiaceae Anacardium occidentale L.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

The tree is a large, spreading tropical evergreen, 30 to 40 feet high, and spreading up to 60 feet. The leaves are oval or obovate, leathery, 4 to 8 inches long and half as wide. The nuts are borne on a fleshy receptacle, 2 to 4 inches long, called the apple, which is edible and used for eating fresh or in jams or jellies in the tropics. The nuts with surrounding tissues are 1 to 1.5 inches long and kidney shaped. The shell has an oily outer layer, and a thin hard inner one. Between these layers is a honeycombed tissue, from which cashew oil is obtained. The kernels are difficult to separate from the shell because of the curved shape. After roasting the whole nut to extract the oil, shells are removed by hand. Most of the cashews come from India, but production is increasing somewhat in other tropical countries.

Last update February 18, 1999 by ch