It has leathery oval leaves. Reddish flowers grow in clusters, and the pear shaped fruits, referred to as cashew apples, are red or yellowish in colour. At the end of each fruit is a kidney-shaped ovary, the nut, with a hard double shell.

The cashew tree has been cultivated for food and medicine for 400 years. The cashew kernel is a rich source of fat and protein and is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and iron. It has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular, the essential fatty acid linoleic acid.

organic productThe cashew nut can be consumed directly or as roasted and salted nuts. It is also used in confectionery and bakery products. The relative importance of these uses varies from year to year and country to country, but it is estimated that at least 60 percent of cashew kernels are consumed as salted nuts. Separately packed cashew nuts are a good selling line, mainly as an appetiser to cocktail drinks. Salted cashews are part of the snack food market. The price of cashew nuts is much higher than the price of peanuts or other snacks so that sales must be based on a strong taste preference by the consumer. Cashew nuts are generally considered a luxury product, and an element of their appeal may lie in this status.