The Cashew, Anacardium occidentale L., is a member of the Anacardiaceae family, along with mango, pistachio, poison ivy and poison oak. The family contains 73 genera and about 600 species. Anacardium contains 8 species, native to tropical America, of which the cashew is by far the most important economically.
Cashews are one of the few fruit crops normally grown from seed, and few improved cultivars exist, at least in commercial production.
ORIGIN OF THE ANACARDIUM OCCIDENTALE, HISTORY OF CULTIVATION
Cashew is native to northeastern Brazil, in the area between the Atlantic rain forest and the Amazon rainforest. The Portuguese introduced cashew to the west coast of India and east Africa in the 16th century, shortly after its discovery in 1578. It was planted in India initially to reduce erosion, and uses for the nut and pseudofruit, the cashew apple, were developed much later. Nut domestication predated the arrival of Europeans to Brazil, although international nut trade did not occur until the 1920s. India developed more refined methods for removing the caustic shell oil, and this country is given credit for developing the modern nut industry.
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