Cashew Tree (Anacardium occidentale)

cashew nuts on a cashew plant

Most of us have eaten cashews, but have you ever wondered where they come from?

The cashew grows on a medium sized tree (Anacardium occidentale) that is native to the rainforests of South America. Cashew trees were exported to other regions and are now grown in many tropical areas of the world.

The tree produces red flowers and soon after, the cashew tree produces yellow, orange, or red fruit commonly known as the cashew apple. Although most people in the United States are not familiar with this fruit, the cashew apple is eaten by many people of the world. Some people make juice or wine from this fruit. The cashew apple contains a lot of antioxidants, including vitamin C.

The part of the cashew tree that interests most people in the United States are the nuts that grow on the bottom of the red fruit. This part is the shell that contains the cashew nut.

Unlike other nuts you find at the grocery store, you never see cashew nuts still in the shell. This is because the cashew shell contains oil that is very irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.

Cashew nuts can be eaten raw or they can be roasted.

These nuts provide many people in tropical climates with a way to make a living.