The cashew (Anacardium occidentale, Linn.) is a member of the Anacardium genus of the Anacardiaceae family. It is a small tree, with leaves that are alternate, simple, entire, obtuse, and borne on short leaf stalks. The flowers are abundant, small, and fragrant, and are produced in terminal, loose panicles. The enlarged juicy peduncle that bears the nut is known as the "cashew apple." When ripe, it is of a golden-yellow color, obovate in shape, has a pleasant, acid flavor, and is somewhat astringent. The cashew nut hangs from the end of the cashew apple, and is kidney-shaped and about 2.5 cm long. It consists of an edible kernel, surrounded by two shells. The outer shell is smooth and of a bright brown color. Between the two shells, there is a very caustic oily substance. The cashew kernel is considered to be of high nutritive quality, and is covered with a thin reddish brown skin or testa.
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