Cashew Tree Guide by a Tree Expert: How to Grow, Uses, Nuts (Warning)

Image of a full grown Cashew tree showing its branches and leaves in an oval frame on green background.

Who doesn’t love the delicious and nutritious fruits that grow on the cashew tree?

Although some people are allergic to cashews, for those who enjoy tree nuts, the cashew is among many people’s favorite. So why not plant a Cashew Tree, right?

The answer to that question is a little complicated. Cashews are edible, but home growers should know that like many tree nuts, the cashew produces a toxic substance that is harmful to humans. So, processing the fruit is a crucial part of growing and maintaining a Cashew tree.

Cashew tree identification with leaves, flowers, and seeds in circle frames.

And, these trees can be temperamental…

This complete guide provides all the info you’ll need if you’re deciding on whether or not to plant a cashew tree, including how to take care of them and how to enjoy the bounty!

Cashew Tree

(Anacardium occidentale)

Cashew tree image in an oval frame on green background.
  • Characteristics: The cashew tree, grown in temperatures above 20C, has an average lifespan of 45 years but only bears fruit for 20 of those. The nut grows outside the edible fruit inside a shell that contains a caustic fluid. During harvesting and production, care needs to be taken as this fluid can cause allergic reactions.
  • Family: Sumac family(Anacardiaceae)
  • Genus: Anacardium
  • Leaf: With an oval shape, measuring 7 to 12 cm wide, they have prominent midribs and delicate veins. Each leaf measures about 10 to 20 centimeters in length.
  • Bark: Dark, irregular, and cracked.
  • Seed: The nut is the seed of the cashew apple and is encased in a shell
  • Blossoms: It can take up to 3 years for the cashew tree to blossom. And then between November and January, the blooming process begins
  • Fruit: The cashew apple is actually the fruit of the cashew tree.
  • Native Habitat: Northeastern Brazil. Tropical climates are the ideal growing conditions.
  • Height: The cashew tree can grow up to 46 feet in height.
  • Canopy: The canopy can span from 19 feet to 49 feet.
  • Type: Evergreen

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: Judgefloro18

In regards to this particular species of trees, a cashew tree guide by a tree expert may well be required to find out crucial information before you go out to purchase one.

Unlike many other fruit-bearing trees, a cashew tree must be planted correctly in the right habitat to ensure a successful harvest.7

Advice from an expert will help to avoid the pitfalls when planting and the dangers when harvesting. What are they?

Cashew Tree Overview and Warning

Cashew trees either grow from a seed or from a grafted tree.

Growing one from a seed involves planting 3 or 4 fresh seeds in a 5 cm hole in a plastic bag or a pot that contains sterilized soil, not forgetting that the stalk ends need to point upwards.

Sterilized soil is recommended to provide a purified environment devoid of harmful organisms so that the seeds have a better chance of growing stronger and healthier.

If more than one tree is to be grown, leaving 30-30 cm between the seeds when sowing them is advisable, allowing room for the roots to extend outwards unhindered at this stage.

After watering regularly for 10 -12 days, the seeds will have germinated and be ready for transplanting, but during this stage, weed out the weaklings, those seeds that are not growing well, and leave the strongest to thrive.

Before transplanting, prepare the ground by digging 10-15 cm deep holes about 30 feet apart, then gently bury the seeds. This process would be the same as planting a grafted tree, including watering weekly until the tree has matured.

What Is the Lifespan of Cashew Tree?

So, when a cashew tree reaches the ripe old age of 20, is it ready for the wood chipper?

Not at all.

Free from pests and disease, a tree can continue to live a further 5 years, with some surviving up to 40 years in total if properly tended to and if in an optimal growing environment.

How Many Cashew Trees Per Acre?

With proper spacing using modern techniques, it is possible to plant up to 400 trees on an acre of land.

This is achievable by reducing the distance when planting the grafted trees or seeds, and selecting a variety that can grow comfortably closer to its neighbor.

This denser method of planting increases the number of trees significantly from the 100-tree limit that was previously possible. Being able to plant more is a major boost for farmers, affording them greater yields, and greater profits.

Cashew Tree Fruit

This period of growing to maturity and bearing fruit differs greatly between these two methods.

From a seedling, it takes three years before fruits can be harvested. With a grafted tree, that time is reduced significantly to 18 months.

Close-up photo of an almost ripe cashew fruit.

(Image: Sarangib.11)

During this adolescent phase, the root system develops laterally as the tree grows, establishing a strong base where water can be absorbed easily. The unsteady, spindly sapling requires support at this early stage and wooden stakes should be used so it grows erect.

It is important to use the correct fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Again, this is vital for optimum growth and the tree’s well-being.

If in doubt about the exact quantity and timing, consult an expert.

Cashew Nut Pronunciation

Probably the easiest way to pronounce cashew is to break the word in two and pronounce the KA first, followed by SHOO. Ka-Shoo will then accentuate the word properly. Nuts is just nuts.5

Cashew Tree Cold Tolerance

Originally grown and reared in Brazil, cashew trees are accustomed to bathing in tropical sunlight for 6 hours with temperatures above 15°C or 59°F. It can even thrive at 40°C 105°F without breaking a sweat.

Try and grow these sun worshippers in temperatures that drop below 10°C or 50°F, will freeze the sap in their veins and they will quickly shrivel and die.

Cashew Tree Guide: Can You Eat a Cashew Apple?

A cashew nut tree doesn’t just grow a tasty morsel for snack time, it bears a cashew apple and together they have a slew of benefits and uses.

Although very perishable, the cashew apple, which is actually the pear-shaped fruit that the shell of the nut is attached to, is edible. Vitamin-wise, it has a high level of vitamin C, vitamin B1, calcium, and even iron.

The nut itself is known to help sufferers with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels and is often blended to make cashew nut butter. Once it is puréed it can be used to make sauces, ice cream, and even cream for soups.

In many Asian and African countries, the entire tree has a multitude of medicinal applications.

For instance, in West Africa and India the leaves are used to reduce the fever caused by Malaria and to treat gum diseases, while the bark is used topically to combat snake bites.

Cashew Fruit Uses: Cashew Fruit Benefits

The popularity of the cashew nut goes far beyond its taste. Apart from being good for sore throats, it is great for bone strength and far, far more, such as for:

  • Juicing the fruit, bark, and leaves to treat diarrhea
  • Making a syrup for coughs and colds
  • Ingesting the apple juice for treating cholera, kidney problems, and even syphilis
  • Removing warts and corns with the caustic liquid
  • Alleviating painful skin cracks
  • Using the thick brown tree sap as inks and varnishes as it blackens naturally
  • Fabricating glue from the stems
  • An insect repellant from the gum of the bark
  • Using the toxic oil in the shell to waterproof woodwork
  • Manufacturing plastic products
  • Fermenting the cashew apple to turn it into alcohol

How Many Cashews Can a Tree Produce?

It will take up to 10 years before a cashew tree has produced to its fullest potential. It starts to harvest after two years if grown from a grafted tree, but really hits its best years at age 10, and can produce 50 kg to 100 kg of nuts yearly.2

When it reaches 20 years old, its ability to produce fruit is at an end, and it can only watch as the surrounding youngsters continue to bear fruit.

Nuts: How Are Cashews Harvested? (How To Know When To Harvest)

The color of the cashew apple and shell is the giveaway, as well as when the occasional fruit starts to fall from the branch. But generally, when the cashew apple has a change of color from yellow to a dark pink and the nutshell darkens,6 it’s time.

Close-up photo of a pile of orange cashew fruits.

(Image: Giovanni4210)

At this stage, both the cashew apples and nuts are collected and go their separate ways. The fruits are washed, transported to local markets, sold, and eaten raw.

They taste similar to mangoes but due to their thin skin, the cashew apple perishes quickly so it is often made into a juice in its native Brazil.

The harvested nuts head in another direction still encased in their shells.

Processing of a Cashew Nut

Arriving at the processing plant, the nuts are roasted either in steam or boiling oil to remove a substance called urushiol, a substance harmful to humans. Afterward, they are finally shelled, dried, peeled, then roasted again to instill the flavor.

A second roasting may be omitted if they are being sold raw, but the second roasting process also removes any traces that may remain of the urushiol.

There can be no doubt that the cashew nut is power-packed with beneficial nutrients, helping to reduce inflammation and prevent diseases due to its high content of antioxidants.

But more than that, they just taste good.

Cashew Nut Tree Warning

In an ideal world, the cashew nut tree would grow a warning label alongside each fruit as it matures and is ready for harvesting.

It is easy to forget for the casual grower, that the nut encased within the shell is immersed in a toxic liquid called urushiol. This reddish-brown, oily substance, if coming into direct skin contact, will cause blistering and a severe allergic reaction.

This allergic reaction is similar to the skin rash received when exposed to poison ivy and the severity can vary from mild to severe depending on the sensitivity of the person.

Cashew Nut Allergy: The Cashew Nut Oil

The caustic reaction promotes a mild itchy skin condition, inflammation around the infected area, and pus-leaking surface bumps as well as a harsh burning sensation.

Close-up photo of small bottles filled with cashew oil and some cashew seeds scattered around outside the bottles.

(Image: Philipp Legki17)

If this substance leaks out onto the shell, all these symptoms could be experienced during harvesting. To this end, care needs to be taken during harvesting, with protective clothing being used.

A further note of caution needs to be added when it comes to burning any part of the cashew nut tree. The smoke may contain traces of urushiol from burning the sap, the leaves, or the flowers, and this can be poisonous if inhaled.

It is important that people realize that this tree it is not possible to just pick a cashew nut from a tree,3 shucks it out of its shell and you’re good to go. Try that and the only place you’ll be going is a quick trip to the hospital.

Are Cashews Poisonous?

Cashew nuts are safe to eat. The only portion of the nut that can cause allergic reactions, is the urushiol oil that surrounds it in the shell.

Problems could arise if a shell is picked from the fruit, broken open and the nut eaten directly, with blisters and rashes similar to those from poison ivy breaking out quickly.4 Fortunately, cautionary instructions on how to pick and when to eat are given to new growers.

In the processing plant, this toxic element is safely removed and the nuts are prepared for human consumption. It is highly unlikely that any residual urushiol oil will remain to cause any adverse reactions after this careful process.

Types of Cashew Trees

Gigante and Tardio are the two main types of cashew trees grown, the first named because of its large size, the second because of its late fruit bloom. These are the traditional sizes, but in Brazil and India, they have cultivated the dwarf cashew tree that is gaining in popularity.

A photo of a small cashew tree with yellow green leaves planted on a grassy land.

(Image: Sarangib.9)

These trees yield 5 varieties of nuts, ranging from the W-180 grading, which is the largest, to the W45, the smallest.

The price for them on the market is based on their size, but even so, the lengthy production process can make the cashew nut an expensive treat at the end of the day while relaxing with a cold beer.

Dwarf Cashew Tree: Dwarf Cashew Tree for Sale

The dwarf version was cultivated primarily so farmers could increase the number of trees they were able to plant in a given area. Being more compact and requiring less water makes them more commercially viable.

The actual nut is the same size, and for the same area of land that a farmer could plant a traditional cashew tree, he can now harvest over twice as much with a dwarf tree.

Dwarf Cashew Tree Size

In a sense, a dwarf cashew tree is superior to its bigger compatriot.

Not only can it be packed in a denser formation, but it gradually grows to a maximum height of 20 feet over a 10-year period. It requires less water and within the space of just one year, it reaches maturity and produces fruits ready for harvest.

Dwarf Cashew Tree Seeds

Before sowing the dwarf seeds, it is recommended to soak them in water for better germination. Once placed in a bag filled with a soil mixture of soil and compost, place them in a 2.5 cm hole, and just watch them grow.

Cashew Nut Family

The scientific name for a cashew nut is Anacardiaceae.1 It has 860 familial relatives known as the sumac family, which comprises the pistachio nut, certain species of plums, mangoes, gum trees, and even as diverse a cousin as poison ivy.

Where Can I Find a Cashew Tree for Sale Near Me? Find Cashew Trees for Sale

Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are in the perfect planting zones for growing cashew trees in the United States.

But if you don’t live in any of these zones that are cashew tree compatible, and you really want to grow a cashew tree in your greenhouse.

The following list of state local growers is just a guide. Always search for a nursery nearby if possible, to reduce the carbon emissions generated by shipping and packaging.


StateCashew Tree Seller
Cashew Tree for Sale Near AlabamaJ&I Tree Nursery Farms, Alabama
Cashew Tree for Sale Near AlaskaPlant It Hawaii
Cashew Tree for Sale Near ArizonaVerde River Growers, Arizona
Cashew Tree for Sale Near ArkansasMary’s Place, Arkansas
Cashew Tree for Sale Near CaliforniaMimosa Nursery, California
Cashew Tree for Sale Near ColoradoDesert Canyon Farm, Colorado
Cashew Tree for Sale Near ConnecticutGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near DelawareGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near Florida
(Cashew Tree for Sale in Florida)
Everglades Farm, Florida
Cashew Tree for Sale Near GeorgiaEverglades Farm, Florida
Image of Cashew Tree with its green leaves and fruits and nuts.

(Image: Anton Shuvalov12)

StateCashew Tree Seller
Cashew Tree for Sale Near HawaiiPlant It Hawaii
Cashew Tree for Sale Near IdahoSwanson Nursery, Washington
Cashew Tree for Sale Near IllinoisGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near IndianaGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near IowaRed Fern Farm, Iowa
Cashew Tree for Sale Near KansasDesert Canyon Farm, Colorado
Cashew Tree for Sale Near KentuckyGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near LouisianaCaldwell, Texas
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MaineGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MarylandGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Low angle shot of a Cashew Tree with its green leaves and buds.

(Image: sarangib13)

StateCashew Tree Seller
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MassachusettsGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MichiganGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MinnesotaGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MississippiEverglades Farm, Florida
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MissouriCottleville Farm & Home Supply, Missouri
Cashew Tree for Sale Near MontanaSwanson Nursery, Washington
Cashew Tree for Sale Near NebraskaDesert Canyon Farm, Colorado
Cashew Tree for Sale Near NevadaMimosa Nursery, California
Cashew Tree for Sale Near New HampshireGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near New JerseyGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Image of a Cashew tree with its red fruits and green leaves in a

(Image: sarangib14)

StateCashew Tree Seller
Cashew Tree for Sale Near New MexicoCaldwell, Texas
Cashew Tree for Sale Near New YorkGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near North CarolinaEverglades Farm, Florida
Cashew Tree for Sale Near North DakotaDesert Canyon Farm, Colorado
Cashew Tree for Sale Near OhioGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near OklahomaCaldwell, Texas
Cashew Tree for Sale Near OregonSwanson Nursery, Washington
Cashew Tree for Sale Near PennsylvaniaGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near Rhode IslandGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near South CarolinaEverglades Farm, Florida
Close up image of dark red and green cashew fruit, green leaves and twigs of a Cashew tree.

(Image: romilsondequeiroz15)

StateCashew Tree Seller
Cashew Tree for Sale Near South DakotaDesert Canyon Farm, Colorado
Cashew Tree for Sale Near TennesseeEverglades Farm, Florida
Cashew Tree for Sale Near TexasCaldwell, Texas
Cashew Tree for Sale Near UtahVerde River Growers, Arizona
Cashew Tree for Sale Near VermontGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near VirginiaGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near WashingtonSwanson Nursery, Washington
Cashew Tree for Sale Near West VirginiaGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near WisconsinGossett Brothers Nursery, New York
Cashew Tree for Sale Near WyomingDesert Canyon Farm, Colorado
Close up image of a red oval shaped cashew fruit and its brown nuts on a Cashew tree.

(Image: Quang Nguyen Vinh16)

Cashew Tree Disease Prevention: Cashew Tree Fruit Pest Control

Regularly spraying the cashew trees with fungicide will keep such diseases as black mold, bacterial spots, and Pestalotia leaf spots at bay.

Photo of a cashew tree with visible cashew fruits beneath its green leaves.

(Image: Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting8)

The same can be said of using insecticides to eradicate pests such as leaf miners, blossom webbers, borers, and thrips. Some of these pests bore holes in the branches, drain the sap from the leaves, and stunt tree growth.

If allowed to get out of control, these pests and runaway diseases can drive a once-healthy tree into the ground. But worse, if the trees are densely packed, the pests and fungi can migrate and decimate rows of trees.

Proper monitoring should stop any potential damage in its tracks and help the cashew tree to live a long and healthy life.

Bats and birds are another problems. To stop them from snacking on even one tasty cashew apple, netting may be required to keep them at bay.

What Does a Cashew Tree Look Like? Cashew Tree Height?

A cashew tree can be recognized from its smooth brown trunk, its evergreen dense canopy, and branches that sprout from the trunk fairly close to the ground even before being laden with ripe fruit.

In perfect growing conditions, a cashew tree can grow to heights between 20 feet to 35 feet. But conditions are very rarely perfect.

Cashew tree growth chart showing full grown Cashew tree on a line graph with Cashew tree age on the x-axis and Cashew tree height on the y-axis.

On average, a tree will reach a height of 15 feet to 25 feet, which is still impressive at harvest time.

Where Do Cashew Trees Grow?

Cashew trees can survive easily with little water when mature, making the African continent the place to be for the cashew tree.

Surprisingly, though, much of the processing and de-shelling is done in countries such as India and Viet Nam for producing raw cashew nuts, while roasted nuts are produced in Europe and North America.

The lack of consistent tropical-like climates in the United States restricts the growth of cashew trees in the South of Florida, Brownsville, Texas, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Neither of these does so on a commercial basis, however.

Where Is the Best Cashew Tree Growing Zone?

A tropical climate is the best friend of a cashew nut tree and the tree will not survive for long in temperatures below 10°C. For this reason, despite the cashew nut tree being native to Brazil, Africa is the world’s biggest grower of cashew nuts.

Countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Ghana, provide ideal conditions for optimal growth. The temperatures are constantly high, the winds are low, rainfall is minimal, and the sandy soil doesn’t retain large amounts of water, a condition anathema to the roots.

Almond Tree Growing Zone

Unlike the cashew nut tree, an almond tree does not like tropical climates, preferring it to be hot and dry. The United States, specifically California, leads the way in world production, followed by Spain.

The rows of almond trees in the orchards prefer a temperature range of 15°C to 30°C, but mild, wet winters are not a problem either as long as the soil drains away any excess water.

A cashew nut has many uses, but fundamentally at heart, it will always be known as a tasty morsel. Its popularity is worldwide, and in and of itself, it is a burgeoning industry fueling the economy of the impoverished nation.

Is Growing a Cashew Tree Arizona Possible?

From June to the end of November, the temperatures in Arizona are perfect for growing cashew trees. But once the winter cold starts to set in, it becomes too cold for the trees’ survival.

But the lack of copious amounts of water in the soil is also a problem.

So, at first glance, arid Arizona would seem a perfect fit for the cashew tree, but it is simply not tropical enough.

If you’re considering growing cashew nuts commercially or even just in your greenhouse out back, it’s always best to find a cashew tree guide by a tree expert to steer you on the right path so the process won’t… drive you nuts.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Cashew Tree

Where Can I Buy a Cashew Tree? Cashew Tree for Sale

Garden centers, farms, nurseries. These are the places where it is possible to purchase cashew trees from seeds to grafted trees.

Disadvantages of Cashew Nuts?

With cashew nuts, similar to other nuts, some people experience allergic reactions. For those unfortunate enough to suffer from a nut allergy, the disadvantages of eating cashews can be the cause of bloating, constipation, pain in the joints, and weight gain.


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