Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Cashew

The cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree in the sumac (Anacardiaceae) family, native to northern and western South America and Brazil, but now widely cultivated in tropical areas around the world.  It is cultivated mainly for its edible seed (the cashew), as well as a resin obtained from the nutshell (cashew shell oil), and its fruit (the cashew apple). The resin can cause a rash; likewise, the waxy coating on the fruit contains the irritant urushiol (like other members of the sumac family) and can cause contact dermatitis in people allergic to it.  If urushiol is ingested or inhaled, it can cause a severe allergic reaction.  These compounds pose a health risk to people involved in the manual processing of cashew products.

Botanical drawing of the cashew plant.
Botanical drawing of the cashew (Anacardium occidentale).

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