Anacardium occidentale, commonly known as the cashew tree, is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to northeastern Brazil but is now widely grown in other tropical regions for its fruit, cashew nuts, and wood. The tree can grow up to 12-14 meters tall and has a spreading crown with thick foliage.
The cashew nut is the main product of the cashew tree, and it is actually the kidney-shaped seed that grows on the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the tree. The nut is enclosed in a hard outer shell, which is surrounded by a caustic oil-containing layer that can cause skin irritation, making it necessary to handle the nuts carefully during processing.
The cashew nut is a good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and it is a popular snack and ingredient in cooking and baking. Cashew oil, extracted from the nuts, is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
The wood of the cashew tree is also valuable and is used in the production of furniture, flooring, and other wood products. Additionally, the leaves, bark, and fruits of the cashew tree are used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including inflammation, diarrhea, and respiratory infections.
Anacardium occidentale is an important crop in many countries, particularly in India, Vietnam, and Brazil, and it provides livelihoods for millions of people involved in the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of cashew nuts.