Anacardium occidentale L.

Cashew apple & nut

Common names
English (cashew apple & nut); Arabic (habb al-biladhir); Indonesian (jambu mede); Mandarin (yao kuo); Portuguese (caju)
Cashew apple, cashew nut
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Tree info

Dimensions in meters 10–12 m tall. Its spreading branches and canopy can extend up to 12 m wide.
Maturity of tree before yields 3-4 years
Productivity lifetime 30-40 years
Seasonality Both the apple and nut ripen during the dry season, which varies based on latitude and local conditions. In tropical zones, fruiting can occur year-round.
Production zones and cultivation methods The tree grows in lowland tropical and subtropical areas at elevations up to 1,000 m. It prefers hot, frost-free climates and fruits well in semi-arid conditions with an annual precipitation of 500–900 mm. The cashew nuts are small, greenish brown in colour and kidney shaped. The cashew apple is the reddish orange, thickened fruit stalk that the cashew nut hangs from. At harvest time, the nuts are either separated from the apple by hand or allowed to fall to the ground naturally. Parts of the tree, which is related to poison ivy, can cause irritation, itching and burns on the skin. For this reason, skilled harvesters must take care when handling and processing the raw shells. These shells are then roasted, making them easier to open and reveal the familiar, cream-coloured nuts.


Per 100 g edible portion (EP)

Apple Nut
Energy 50 kcal 585kcal
% Daily Value (DV) * % Daily Value (DV) *
Macronutrients Protein:  0.8 g 2 Protein:  17.7 g 35
Fat: 0.3 g 0.4 Fat: 44.4 g 57
Carbohydrates: 9.4 g 3 Carbohydrates: 27 g 10
Key minerals Magnesium: 13 mg 3 Magnesium: 267 mg 64
Iron: 0.8 mg 4 Iron: 4.59 mg 42
Potassium: 102 mg 2 Potassium: 6,4 mg 36
Key vitamins Ascorbid acid (Vitamin C): 123 mg 137 Folate (Vitamin 9): 46 mcg 12
Niacin (Vitamin B3): 0.4 mg 0.4 Thiamine (Vitamin B1) 50
Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 0.03mg 0.03 Vitamin E: 0.78 mg 5
Other Dietary fibre: 1.5 g 5


Native to Brazil, Anacardium occidentale L. is grown around the world especially in Vietnam, India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Philippines, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast and Iran, to name a few.


The Portuguese brought the cashew nut to India from Brazil in the 16th century. Ever since then, its uses and popularity have exploded across Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The nut kernel is commonly ground into a paste that forms a base of various sauces and curries. It is also roasted, mixed with rice dishes and processed into plant-based milk.

Cashew apples can be eaten fresh or used to make jams, chutneys and juices that are rich in vitamin C. In South Africa, this juice is sometimes used as a feedstock for bioethanol production because of its many nutrients. Although the cashew apple has a short shelf life, and therefore is not commonly exported raw, its derivative products can be processed and sent abroad. The fruit may also be distilled to produce strong alcoholic drinks.

Anacardium occidentale L. is a popular fruit tree for agroforestry because it can grow in most soils and endures drought well. In India, the species is often intercropped with cowpea, groundnuts and coconut. Planting these trees can improve degenerated soil, aid in reforestation, and the discarded cashew nuts and leaves are used to feed livestock. Additionally, the tree’s timber is used to manufacture furniture, boats, packing crates, and charcoal.

Known as the ‘wonder nut’, the cashew is one of the most economically valuable nuts traded on world commodity markets. The annual production of cashew nuts (with shells) is the highest of all tree nuts, amounting to more than 3.5 million tons. In July 2021, the global market for cashews was worth over $6 billion. The widespread demand for this product makes it an important cash crop for smallholders and an area where more work can be done to improve local livelihoods.

The apple also has some reported medicinal uses. Because of its high fibre, it has earned a reputation as a digestive cleanser. In addition, the tannic juice is sometimes used to help soothe sore throats

Scientific references


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