The cashew tree is a tropical evergreen that produces the cashew nut and the cashew apple. Officially classed as Anacardium occidentale, it can grow as high as 14 metres (46 ft), but the dwarf cashew, growing up to 6 metres (20 ft), has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields.
The cashew nut is served as a snack or used in recipes, like other nuts, although it is actually a seed. The cashew apple is a fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled into liqueur.
The shell of the cashew nut yield derivatives that can be used in many applications from lubricants to paints, and other parts of the tree have traditionally been used for snake-bites and other folk remedies.
Originally native to northeastern Brazil, the tree is now widely grown in tropical regions, Vietnam and Nigeria being major producers, in addition to India, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia.