-Cashew (A. occidentale L.) is native to Latin America and has a primary center of diversity in Amazonia, and a secondary one in the Planalto of Brazil. Natural occurrence of cashew has been reported from Mexico to Peru, and in the West Indies. It was one of the first fruit trees from the New World to be widely distributed throughout the tropics by the early Portuguese and Spanish adventurers. The name cashew is from the Portuguese caju, which in turn comes from the Tupi-Indian word acaju. The incoming colonists in what is now Brazil found that the native Indians valued both the cashew nut and the so-called apple, the fleshy pedicel or stalk of the fruit.
-Cashew was discovered by Portuguese traders and explorers in Brazil in 1578. It was introduced into West and East Africa and India by the Portuguese travelers in the 16thcentury. By then, cashew was considered a suitable crop for soil conservation, forestation, and also wasteland development. Therefore, the initial aim of cashew introduction to those areas was not to produce nuts and apples (pseudo-fruits), but to help control soil erosion on the coast.
-The nut is attached to the lower portion of the cashew apple which is conically shaped. The cashew nut (seed) hangs at the bottom of the apple, and is c-shaped.
-The cashew seed has within the outside shell the edible kernel or nut. In its raw form the cashew kernel is soft, white and meaty. When roasted it changes colour and taste. Salted, it appeals to the palate as the most delicious nut.
-Medicinal Uses: Bark of cashew is reported to have antihypertensive and blood glucose lowering potential. The kernel yields oil which can serve as mechanical and chemical antidote for irritant poisons. Cashew apple and its juice exhibit anti-scorbutic property. Juice of cashew apple is also used as Diuretic, in treatment of kidney diseases, and Cholera. The shell oil is used as mild purgative, for expulsion of hookworms, for cracks in feet, warts, corns, leprous sores. The resinous juice of seed is used in treatment of mental disorders, sexual debility and as a sequel to small pox.
-Edible Uses: The fleshy peduncle called cashew apple when ripe is used in beverages. The kernel is consumed as raw nuts, roasted nuts, fried nuts, salted nuts, dry fruit, and is added to cakes and deserts. In countries the leaves are used as vegetables. The wood of the tree is used as fuel.
-Commercial Uses: The bark of cashew tree is used in tanning industry. It is also used as an insecticide, and an adhesive for book binding. It is used in pharmaceutical industry as substitute for gum Arabic and is also used in making ink. The juice of cashew apple is used for making wine. The cashew apple is used in preparing various juices, syrups, candies and pickles. The residue of cashew apple is used to extract pectin. Vinegar is prepared from fresh fruit of cashew. The cashew nut shell is used in the cosmetic industry, pharmaceutical industry, textile industry, paper industry, and ink making. Cashew nut shell yields a vesicant juice known in trade as Cashew nut Shell Liquid (CNSL). CSNL is used in preservation of boats, nets, and wood. CNSL is used in insulating varnishes and resins. It is also used in paint industry, particle board adhesives, thermo-plastic resins, thermosetting resins, and plastic industry. The shell oil is also used as insecticide against mosquito larvae