Articles

Anacardium occidentale L.

Anacardium occidentale L.

Family

Anacardiaceae

Synonyms

None

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Gajus, jambu monyet.
English  Cashew.
Indonesia Jambu monyet, jambu mede (Java).
Philippines Kasoy, balubad (Tagalog), balogo (Ilokano).
Burma Thiho thayet si.
Cambodia Svaay chantii.
Thailand Mamuang himmaphan (central), yaruang (Pattani), mamuang letlor (Ranong).
Vietnam Dào lôn hôt (north), cây diêù (south).
French Cajou, anacardier.

Geographical Distributions

Originated from northeastern Brazil, cashew spread into South and Central America. The Portuguese introduced it into India and East Africa. It then spread into Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Spaniards took it to the Philippines in the 17th Century. At present, Anacardium occidentale is cultivated in many tropical countries; the main producers are Brazil, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Description

A. occidentale is an evergreen tree which can reach up to 12 m tall and with a wide dome-shaped crown. The foliage forms a thin peripheral canopy, studded with the protruding inflorescences. The taproot is up to 3 m deep and persistent. The lateral roots spread beyond the crown projection, with sinker roots to a depth of 6 m. The stem branches along the main trunk which is 0.5-1.5 m long.

The leaves are arranged alternately, obovate to obovate-oblong, up to 20 cm x 15 cm, hairless and leathery. They are red-brown when young but later becoming shining dark green, and with prominent midrib and veins. The petiole is 1-2 cm long, swollen at base and flattened on upper surface.

The inflorescence is a lax terminal, drooping, many-flowered panicle and up to 25 cm long with fragrant male and hermaphrodite flowers. The 5 sepals are lance-shaped to oblong-ovate, 4-15 mm x 1-2 mm and hairy. There are 5 linear-lance-shaped petals of 7-13 mm x 1-1.5 mm, reflexed and whitish at anthesis but later turning pinkish-red. There are 10 stamens. The male flowers are with 7-9 stamens of 4 mm and 1-3 stamens of 6-10 mm in length. The hermaphrodite flowers are usually with 9 short and 1 long stamens. The long stamens produce viable pollen. The style is simple, 12 mm long and exserted from petal to same length as long stamens.

The fruit is a kidney-shaped nut, about 3 cm x 1.2 cm, with grey-brown and resinous hard pericarp. The pedicel is much enlarged and swollen, forming the fruit-like cashew apple which is pear-shaped, 10-20 cm x 4-8 cm, shiny, red to yellow, soft and juicy.

The seed is kidney-shaped with reddish-brown testa, two large white cotyledons and a small embryo. The kernel remaining after removal of the testa is commonly known as cashew nut.

Ecology / Cultivation

A. occidentale requires high temperature and frost is deleterious. The distribution of rainfall over the year is important rather than quantity of fruiting. It fruits well if rain is not abundant during flowering period and if nuts mature in a dry period; the latter ensures good quality harvest. The tree can adapt to very dry conditions as long as its extensive root system has access to soil moisture. In drier areas (annual rainfall 800-1000 mm), deep and well-drained soil without impervious layers is essential. A simple water budget with the aid of pan evaporation figures will show the required soil depth.

Line Drawing / Photograph

BOT00207

References

  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.2: Edible fruits and nuts .