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Anacardium occidentale - Cashew


Native to:



Northeastern Brazil, South America

Arid thickets, sandy soils, sand dunes. Up to 900 meters above sea level. 12 meter tall tree.

Anacardium occidentale - Cashew

Ecological value:

Pollinated by bees, ants. Wind and drought resistant, can withstand sea spray, but not maritime exposure. Can be used as a support for vanilla plants. Good species for coastal (sandy) erosion control. Fast growing. Easy to cultivate. Succeeds in poor soils.

Material uses:

Oil from fruit (45-47%) with high heat resistance, for varnishes, inks etc. Dye obtained from sap in bark. Gum from stem for adhesives and insect repellent. Non-edible oil from shell as waterproofing agent for wood etc. Wood, lightweight, hard, good for construction, carpentry.

Edible uses:

Both fruits and seeds are edible (seeds MUST be roasted as they contain blistering
agent killed by heat).

Medicinal use:

Used to treat malaria, reduce blood sugar levels, remove warts and ringworm,
sap is a contraceptive, used to detoxify snake bites.

Other details:

Cannot withstand frost. Oil used in the manufacturing of plastics. Good fuel wood. Productive life of 30-40 years, beginning to bear fruit around year 3. Fragrant flowers.


Sam Schillinger/Christine Facella


“Anacardium Occidentale L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 29, 2023.
“Anacardium Occidentale - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
Barwick. M., ‘Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide’, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004
Huxley. A., ‘The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992’, MacMillan Press, 1992
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Image source: Marco Schmidt

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