/kash"ooh, keuh shooh"/, n.
1. a tree, Anacardium occidentale, native to tropical America, having milky juice, simple, leathery leaves, and yellowish-pink flowers in open clusters.
2. Also called cashew nut. the small, kidney-shaped, edible nut of this tree.
[1695-1705; < Pg cajú, aph. var. of ACAJ < Tupi aka'iu]

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Edible seed or nut of Anacardium occidentale, a tropical and subtropical evergreen shrub or tree in the sumac family, native to tropical Central and South America.

Important chiefly for its nuts, the tree also produces wood used for shipping crates, boats, and charcoal, and a gum similar to gum arabic. Related to poison ivy and poison sumac, it must be handled with care. The two-shelled nut is shaped like a large, thick bean. A brown oil between the two shells blisters human skin and is used as a lubricant and an insecticide and in the production of plastics. The nut is rich and distinctively flavoured.

Cashew apples (hypocarp) and nuts of the domesticated cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale).

W.H. Hodge

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 the characteristically curved, edible seed or nut of the domesticated cashew tree. The tropical and subtropical evergreen shrub or tree is native to the New World, but commercially cultivated mainly in Brazil and India. The nut, rich in oil and distinctively flavoured, is a commonly used ingredient in South and Southeast Asian cuisine, and it is a characteristic ingredient of numerous chicken and vegetarian dishes of southern India. In Western countries it is eaten mainly as a premium-quality snack food.

      The cashew tree produces wood that is useful in local economies for such practical items as shipping crates, boats, and charcoal (and also for a gum that it produces that is similar to gum arabic), but most cultivation is directed toward production of the valuable nut crop.

      The plant may grow to 12 metres (40 feet) in height where the soil is fertile and the humidity high. The nut, shaped like a large, thick bean, is sometimes more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) long and forms in an unusual way. It appears as though one of its ends had been forcibly sunk into the end of a pear-shaped, swollen stem, called the cashew apple, which is about three times as large as the nut and reddish or yellow. The cashew apple is used locally in beverages, jams, and jellies. The nut has two walls, or shells; the outer, smooth and glasslike, over the surface, thin and somewhat elastic but stout, and olive green until maturity, when it becomes strawberry roan. The inner shell is harder and must be cracked like the shells of other nuts to obtain the edible portion inside. A brown oil between the shells blisters human skin and is used as a lubricant and an insecticide and in the production of plastics.

      The fruits are picked by hand, and the nuts are first detached, then sun dried. In some localities the dried nuts are roasted amid burning logs, where the heat causes the outer shells to burst open and release the oil. The oil quickly catches fire, giving off fumes injurious to the eyes and skin. In improved methods of roasting, the poisonous properties are dispelled in roasting cylinders. Later, the inner shells are broken open by hand and the kernels heated to remove the skins.

      The cashew is probably native to northeastern Brazil. Portuguese missionaries took it to East Africa and India during the late 16th century, where it became abundant at low altitudes near the seacoast. Parts of the cashew must be handled with care by susceptible individuals; it is related to the American poison ivy and poison sumac. The wild cashew, or espavé (A. excelsum), is a closely related tree that grows in Central and South America. Both species are members of the sumac family (see Anacardiaceae).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • cashew — UK [ˈkæʃuː] / UK [kæˈʃuː] / US [ˈkæˌʃu] / US [kæˈʃu] or cashew nut UK / US noun [countable] Word forms cashew : singular cashew plural cashews Word forms cashew nut : singular cashew nut plural cashew nuts a curved nut eaten as a food …   English dictionary

  • Cashew — Ca*shew (k[.a]*sh[=oo] ), n. [F. acajou, for cajou, prob. from Malay k[=a]yu tree; cf. Pg. acaju, cf. {Acajou}.] 1. (Bot.) A tree ({Anacardium occidentale}) of the same family which the sumac. It is native in tropical America, but is now… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cashew — [kash′o͞o; ] also [, kə sho͞o′] n. [aphetic < Fr acajou < Port acajú < Tupí] 1. a tropical evergreen tree (Anacardium occidentale) of the cashew family, with kidney shaped, poisonous nuts, each at the end of an edible, pear shaped… …   English World dictionary

  • cashew — ► NOUN (also cashew nut) ▪ the edible kidney shaped nut of a tropical American tree. ORIGIN Tupi …   English terms dictionary

  • cashew — 1704, aphetic of Fr. acajou, from older Port. acajê from Tupi (Brazil) acajuba, name of the tree that produces the nut …   Etymology dictionary

  • cashew — see cachou …   Modern English usage

  • Cashew — taxobox name = Cashew image caption = Cashews ready for harvest in Guinea Bissau regnum = Plantae unranked divisio = Angiosperms unranked classis = Eudicots unranked ordo = Rosids ordo = Sapindales familia = Anacardiaceae genus = Anacardium… …   Wikipedia

  • Cashew — Kaschu Cashewbaum (A. occidentale), Illustration aus Koehler 1887 Systematik Unterklasse: Rosenähnliche (Rosidae) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • cashew — noun a) A tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae, native to northeastern Brazil, now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts and cashew apples. b) A cashew nut. Syn: acajou …   Wiktionary

  • cashew — noun Etymology: Portuguese cajú, acajú, from Tupi akajú Date: 1598 a tropical American tree (Anacardium occidentale of the family Anacardiaceae, the cashew family) grown for a phenolic oil and the edible kernel of its nut and for a gum from its… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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