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Cashew Fruit

Anacardium occidentale, commonly referred to as cashew, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Brazil. In India it's known by the names "Kaju" in Hindi and "Andiparippu" in Malayalam.

The name "cashew" comes from the Portuguese word for "fruit," caju. This tree-borne fruit of the cashew tree was brought to India by the Portuguese during the 16th century.

 

Natural Habitat and Growth Type:

The cashew plant is a slow-growing tree that can reach up to 12 metres tall. It has an open growth habit and has a dense, bushy crown. Tolerant of various soil conditions such as sandy or clayey ones, the tree thrives here.

Cashew plant prefers a warm, humid climate with average temperatures ranging from 20degC to 35degC. It thrives best in well-drained soils with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.

 

Sunlight Needs:

Cashew plant thrives best in full sun, though it can tolerate partial shade too.

 

Water Requirements and Ease of Maintenance:

Cashew plant requires regular watering, especially during dry spells. Otherwise, this plant is relatively low maintenance with minimal pruning required.

 

Fruit Description, Taste, Size and Color:

Cashew fruit is a juicy delectable treat with an intense flavour. There are red and yellow varieties available; typically consumed raw or in juice form to get rid of any strong aroma or aftertaste.  Mildly cooking the fruit may help eliminate this strong aroma altogether if that's what puts you off.

It provides a good source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, iron, and potassium. Cashew nuts also make nutritious snacks as well as being used in many culinary dishes.

Feni, a popular Goan liquor, is made with cashew fruit.

The seed of cashew fruit is kidney-shaped and about 2 to 3 cm across. It has an outer hard shell called the cashew nut that contains one single seed inside.

Raw seeds contain milky juice that can cause blisters. On the other hand, when ripened fruits have dried out, these nuts would be dry and crisp.

 

Medical Uses:

Cashew fruit has long been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, such as diarrhoea, constipation and stomach ulcers. Furthermore, the fruit may possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

 

Growing Cashew Plants

Cashew plants can be found throughout India, where they thrive in both tropical and subtropical climates. Due to its drought-tolerance, homestead planting requires less upkeep than commercial plantations; however, grafted trees will start flowering after 6-8 months but should be removed for two years in order to promote healthy plant growth. 

A spacing of  7 to 10 metres is needed when planted on the ground. If space is an issue, grafted trees can also be pruned into small trees that can be placed into drums or other containers. Cashew plant can be pruned to maintain its shape and size. 

Cashew trees are grown for both fruit and nuts but primarily grown for their nuts.

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