Common name: Money tree. Malabar chestnut, French peanut, Guiana chestnut.
Scientific name: Pachira aquatica.
Anacardium occidentale is a medium-sized tree, spreading, evergreen, much branched; grows to a height of 12m. Grown inland on loams, it reaches 15 m and is much branched, with a smaller (4 - 6 m) crown diameter. The tree can adapt to very dry conditions as long as its extensive root system has access to soil moisture. Prefers deep, fertile, sandy soils but will grow well on most soils except pure clays or soils that are otherwise impermeable, poorly drained or subject to periodic flooding.
The seed are nutritious, containing fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The cashew apple is also important; it is eaten fresh or mixed in fruit salads, and a drink is prepared from the juice; sweets and jams can also be prepared from it. Young shoots and leaves are eaten fresh or cooked. The wood is popular for firewood and charcoal. The residue of the shell is often used as fuel in cashew nut shell liquid extraction plants. Pulp from the wood is used to fabricate corrugated and hardboard boxes. The wood of Anacardium occidentale is fairly hard with a density of 500 kg/cm. It finds useful applications in wheel hubs, yoke, fishing boats, furniture, false ceilings and interior decoration. The bark contains an acrid sap of thick brown resin, which becomes black on exposure to air. This is used as indelible ink in marking and printing linens and cottons. The resin is also used as a varnish, a preservative for fishnets and a flux for solder metals. The stem also yields an amber-coloured gum, which is partly soluble in water, the main portion swelling into a jellylike mass. This gum is used as an adhesive, partly because it has insecticidal properties. An oil, cashew nut shell liquid, is produced in the large cells of the pericarp; it has industrial applications and is used as a preservative to treat, for instance, wooden structures and fishing nets. It is also in good demand for paints, synthetic resins, laminated products, brake linings and clutch facings.
Cashew syrup is a good remedy for coughs and colds. The juice is said to be effective for the treatment of syphilis. Root infusion is an excellent purgative. Old cashew liquor in small doses cures stomach-ache. The oil obtained from the shell by maceration in spirit is applied to cure cracks on the sole of the feet, common in villagers. Cashew apple is anti-scorbutic, astringent and diuretic, and is used for cholera and kidney troubles. Cashew nut shell oil is anti-hypertensive and purgative; it is used for blood sugar problems, kidney troubles, cholera, cracks on soles of feet, hookworms, corns and warts. The kernel is a demulcent, an emollient and is used for diarrhoea. Buds and young leaves are used for skin diseases. The resinous juice of seeds is used for mental derangement, heart palpitation, rheumatism; it was used to cure the loss of memory that was a sequel to smallpox.
The cake remaining after oil has been extracted from the kernel serves as animal food. Seed coats are used as poultry feed.