It is a small evergreen
tree growing to 10-12m (~32 ft) tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The leaves
are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4 to 22 cm long and 2 to 15 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers
are produced in a panicle
up to 26 cm long, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals
7 to 15 mm long.
What appears to be the fruit
of the cashew tree is an oval or pear-shaped accessory fruit
or false fruit that develops from the receptacle of the cashew flower. Called the cashew apple
, better known in Central America as "marañón
", it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long. It is edible, and has a strong "sweet" smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport.
The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe
that grows at the end of the pseudofruit
. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the peduncle
expands into the ...