The cashew, Anacardium occidentale, technically a seed, derives its English name from the Portuguese caju. The name Anacardium refers to the shape of the fruit, which looks like an upside-down heart (ana “upwards” and -cardium “heart”)
Originally native to Northeastern Brazil, the tree which is very frost sensitive is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew apples and nuts. The largest producing countries include Nigeria, India, Vietnam and Ivory Coast
The tree is large and evergreen, growing to 10-12m (~32 ft) tall. The fruit is a pseudocarp or false fruit. The cashew apple that appears to be the fruit or pear-shaped structure, a hypocarpium is edible, with a strong “sweet” smell and a sweet taste, although because the skin is fragile, it is unsuitable for transport.
Popularly roasted, salted, sugared and chocolate covered, the cashew nut, unlike other oily tree nuts, has high starch content, making it useful for thickening water-based dishes such as soups and stews.
Cashew is commonly used in Indian cuisine. The nut is used whole or ground in curries and sweets.