University of Florida

Plant Identification Learning Module:
Fruits & Nuts

Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)

The cashew is a small, tropical tree with a dense, spreading canopy. The evergreen leaves are simple and alternate, arranged toward the end of the stems. Each leaf is six to seven inches long, obovate to oblong with a rounded or sometimes notched tip. Flowers are in panicles; each flower, pale green at first then turning reddish, having five petals. The red to yellow fruit is pear shaped. A smooth, thin-shelled, grayish-green, kidney-shaped appendage (containing the nut) is suspended from the bottom end. Great care must be exercised in handling raw nuts, since the shell contains thick, poisonous, caustic oil. The nut inside the shell is light tan or whitish and curved. Cashews grow only in very warm locations of extreme South Florida.