Description: The cashew is a spreading evergreen tree growing to a height of 12 meters (40 feet), with leaves up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long and 10 centimeters (4 inches) wide. Its flowers are yellowish-pink. Its fruit is very easy to recognize because of its peculiar structure. The fruit is thick and pear-shaped, pulpy and red or yellow when ripe. This fruit bears a hard, green, kidney-shaped nut at its tip. This nut is smooth, shiny, and green or brown according to its maturity.
Habitat and Distribution: The cashew is native to the West Indies and northern South America, but transplantation has spread it to all tropical climates. In the Old World, it has escaped from cultivation and appears to be wild at least in parts of Africa and India.
Edible Parts: The nut encloses one seed. The seed is edible when roasted. The pear-shaped fruit is juicy, sweet acid, and astringent. It is quite safe and considered delicious by most people who eat it.
The green hull surrounding the nut contains a resinous irritant poison that will blister the lips and tongue like poison ivy. Heat destroys this poison when the nuts are roasted.
All text and images from the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70: Survival.
Appearance of these materials here does not constitute or represent endorsement by mongabay.com.
ProbablyHelpful.com is not responsible for inaccurate or outdated information provided by the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70.