Skip to Content


« Back to Glossary Index

**Botanical Characteristics**:
Cashew tree is a large, evergreen plant that can grow up to 14 meters tall.
– Leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, and elliptic to obovate.
– Flowers are small, pale green, turning reddish, with five slender petals.
– The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit, with the true fruit being a kidney-shaped drupe.
– The largest cashew tree covers an area of around 7,500 square meters.

**Cultivation and Production**:
Cashew is native to tropical South America and is cultivated in tropics between 25°N and 25°S.
– Traditional cashew trees take three years to start production, while dwarf varieties start producing after the first year.
– Global production of cashew nuts in 2021 was 3.7 million tonnes.
– Ivory Coast and India led with a combined 43% of the world total.
– Grafting and modern technologies improve cashew nut yields, with dwarf varieties yielding over a ton per hectare.

**Trade and Economic Impact**:
– Top exporters of cashew nuts in 2021 were Ghana, Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast.
– Ivory Coast was the top African exporter in 2014.
– Fluctuations in prices and poor working conditions have caused industry discontent.
– Almost all African cashews produced between 2000 and 2019 were exported as raw nuts.
– The African Cashew Alliance aims to promote Africa’s cashew processing capabilities.

**Uses and Applications**:
– Cashews are rich in nutrients like copper, manganese, and thiamin, providing 553kcal per 100g with high fat and protein content.
– Cashews are used in various cuisines for garnishing, curries, and sweets.
Cashew husks are used in industrial applications like composites and biopolymers.
Cashew sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked.
Cashew apples can be eaten fresh, cooked, or fermented, and are used to make preserves, chutneys, jams, and alcoholic beverages.

**Toxicity and Industrial Applications**:
– Cashews are a less frequent allergen, causing allergic reactions in up to 6% of children and 3% of adults.
Cashew nut shell oil compounds can cause contact dermatitis.
Cashew nut oil is derived from pressing cashew nuts and used for cooking or salad dressing.
Cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL) is a natural resin used in various industrial applications.
– CNSL composition includes anacardic acids, cardol, and cardanol, which can be modified for biobased monomers with diverse applications.

Cashew (Wikipedia)

Cashew is the common name of a tropical evergreen tree Anacardium occidentale, in the family Anacardiaceae. It is native to South America and is the source of the cashew nut and the cashew apple, an accessory fruit. The tree can grow as tall as 14 metres (46 feet), but the dwarf cultivars, growing up to 6 m (20 ft), prove more profitable, with earlier maturity and greater yields. The cashew nut is edible and is eaten on its own as a snack, used in recipes, or processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter. The nut is often simply called a 'cashew'. Cashew can cause allergies triggered by the proteins found in the nuts.

Ripe fruit and attached drupe, which contains the edible seed
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Anacardium
A. occidentale
Binomial name
Anacardium occidentale

In 2019, four million tonnes of cashew nuts were produced globally, with Ivory Coast and India the leading producers. As well as the nut and fruit, the plant has several other uses. The shell of the cashew seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications including lubricants, waterproofing, paints, and, starting in World War II, arms production.[full citation needed] The cashew apple is a light reddish to yellow fruit, whose pulp and juice can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or fermented and distilled into liquor.

« Back to Glossary Index