AskDefine | Define cashew

Dictionary Definition



1 tropical American evergreen tree bearing kidney-shaped nuts that are edible only when roasted [syn: cashew tree, Anacardium occidentale]
2 kidney-shaped nut edible only when roasted [syn: cashew nut]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae, native to northeastern Brazil, now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts and cashew apples.
  2. A cashew nut.

Derived terms



Extensive Definition

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.
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 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 pseudofruit. Actually, the drupe develops first on the tree, and then the peduncle expands into the pseudofruit. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing a dermatogenic phenolic resin, urushiol, a potent skin irritant toxin also found in the related poison ivy. Some people are allergic to cashew nuts, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than nuts or peanuts.
Other names include: cajueiro, cashu, casho, acajuiba, caju, acajou, acaju, acajaiba, alcayoiba, anacarde, anacardier, anacardo, Andi parippu (in Malayalam), cacajuil, cajou, gajus, godambi (in Kannada), jeedi pappu (in Telugu), jocote maranon, maranon, merey, Mundhiri paruppu (Tamil), noix d’acajou, pomme cajou, pomme, jambu, jambu golok, jambu mete, jambu monyet, jambu terong, kasoy. In the Antilles in Puerto Rico, it is known as pajuil, and in the Dominican Republic as the cajuil. The pseudofruit is the main part used as raw fruit.

Cashew Industry

Originally spread from Brazil by the Portuguese, the cashew tree is now cultivated in all regions with a sufficiently warm and humid climate. Cashew is produced in around 32 countries of the world. The world production figures of cashew crop, published by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was around 3.1 million tons per annum. The major raw cashew producing countries with their production figures in 2006 (as per the FAO) are Vietnam (941,600 tons), Nigeria (636,000 tons), India (573,000 tons), Brazil (236,140 tons) and Indonesia (122,000 tons).
World’s total area under the cultivation of cashew is around 33,900 km². India ranks first in area utilized for cashew production, though its yields are relatively low. The world’s average yield is 817 pounds per acre (916 kg/hectare) of land
Collectively, Vietnam, Nigeria, India and Brazil account for more than 90% of all cashew kernel exports. Some varieties of cashews come from Kollam or Quilon in Kerala, Southern India which alone produces 4,000 tons of cashews per annum. The major trading centers of cashew in India are Palasa, Kollam or Quilon Mangalore and Kochi.



Anacardic acids found in cashews have been used effectively in vivo against tooth abcesses 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.

See also

Picture Gallery

Cashew Fruit- Stages of Development
cashew in Arabic: كاشو
cashew in Catalan: Anacard
cashew in Czech: Anacardium occidentale
cashew in German: Kaschu
cashew in Dhivehi: ކަޖޫނަޓް
cashew in Estonian: Lääneanakard
cashew in Spanish: Anacardium occidentale
cashew in Esperanto: Akaĵuo
cashew in French: Anacardier
cashew in Galician: Anacardio
cashew in Upper Sorbian: Anakardijum
cashew in Indonesian: Kacang Mede
cashew in Italian: Anacardium
cashew in Hebrew: קשיו
cashew in Pampanga: Balubad
cashew in Georgian: აკაჟუ
cashew in Haitian: Pye pom kajou
cashew in Malayalam: കശുമാവ്
cashew in Malay (macrolanguage): Pokok Gajus
cashew in Dutch: Cashew
cashew in Japanese: カシューナッツ
cashew in Polish: Nanercz zachodni
cashew in Portuguese: Caju
cashew in Russian: Кешью
cashew in Finnish: Munuaispuu
cashew in Swedish: Cashew
cashew in Tagalog: Kasoy
cashew in Thai: มะม่วงหิมพานต์
cashew in Vietnamese: Điều
cashew in Turkish: Kaju
cashew in Ukrainian: Кеш'ю
cashew in Chinese: 腰果
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