The cashew tree, also known as kaju tree, is a tropical low-branched, large leaves, evergreen and medium-sized tree that is native to Brazil. It is known for its unique, kidney-shaped nuts that grow at the end of a fleshy, apple-like structure called a “cashew apple.” The cashew tree is a hardy and adaptable plant that can thrive in a wide range of climates, from tropical to subtropical regions. The cashew tree is a multipurpose species, and cashew products have a wide range of uses. Almost all parts of the kaju tree are reported to have ethnomedicinal properties.
The cashew nut tree grows to a height of up to 40 feet and has a spreading canopy of leaves that provide shade for the underlying plants. The leaves are glossy and dark green, and the tree produces small, fragrant, and creamy white flowers that bloom in the spring or summer.
Cashews, as you know them, are nuts. But the cashew nut is not the only fruit of the cashew trees. Or rather, the cashew nut is only a part of the cashew fruit. The cashew apple, which is the fleshy structure that grows at the base of the cashew nut, is typically bright red or yellow in color and is a popular fruit in many tropical regions. It is rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, and is often used to make juice, jams, and other preserves. The cashew apple can also be eaten fresh, but it is quite perishable and must be consumed within a few days of being picked.
The cashew nut is the true fruit of the cashew tree, and it is encased in a hard shell that contains a toxic oil called urushiol. This oil can cause severe allergic reactions if it comes into contact with the skin, so it is important to handle cashews with care and to always wear gloves when working with them. The cashew nut is a great source of protein, healthy fats, and minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
Cashew plant are also known for their economic and ecological benefits. Cashew nuts are one of the most important cash crops for many countries in the tropical regions. Cashew tree (Kaju tree) also has ecological benefits, it helps in erosion control, provides shade, and supports a wide range of wildlife.
In conclusion, the cashew tree is a tropical evergreen tree that is known for its unique and delicious fruits, the cashew nut and cashew apple. It is a hardy and adaptable plant that can thrive in a wide range of climates and can bring economic and ecological benefits. However, it’s important to handle the cashew nut carefully as the shell contains a toxic oil that can cause severe allergic reactions.
The cashew tree is a multipurpose species, and cashew products have a wide range of uses. The kernel of the cashew nut, the pseudofruit (cashew apple) and the leaves are edible. Almost all parts of the cashew tree are reported to have ethnomedicinal properties.
- Cashew nuts (kernels). The kernels are a nutritious food as they contain large amounts of fats, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
- Cashew apples (pseudofruit) are too fragile to be suitable for transport and relished only in areas of production. They can be eaten fresh in salads, pressed to make juices, cooked in syrup or made into jams to preserve them.
- Cashew pulp is the residue of the separation of the nut from the pseudofruit, and cashew bagasse (cashew pomace, cashew apple waste) is the residue of the juice extraction from the pseudofruit. Both products are suitable for livestock feeding. It should be noted that the term “cashew pulp” is ambiguous and sometimes used for the bagasse.
- Cashew nut oil meal, or cashew nut oil cake, is the residue of the oil extraction from kernels. It is suitable for livestock feeding.
- Cashew nut testa are the red skins that are manually or mechanically removed in the final step of preparing cashew nuts for confectionery. These skins may contain pieces of broken kernels and can be used as feed.
- Cashew tree leaves can be cut and eaten fresh or cooked.
- Cashew tree timber provides good firewood and can make valuable charcoal. The nut shells can be burnt to produce heat to be used in the processing of Cashew Nut Shell Liquid.
- Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL), also known as cashew shell oil is used for epoxy resins, varnishes, and many high-tech materials that can withstand high temperatures, such as brake linings . CNSL is also used as a pesticide against termites in timber, and the bark gum is repellent to insects.