pronounced: an-ar-car-dee-AY-see-eye

the mango or cashew family


The family name comes from Anacardium (the generic of the Cashew tree), which is derived from two Greek words, ανα (ana), upwards, and καρδια (kardia), the heart, referring to the fact that the fruit looks a little like an upside-down heart. The members of the family are mostly trees and shrubs, and, rarely, lianas and subshrubs. Resin ducts in the bark or the foliage are common. The leaves are usually alternate, rarely opposite or whorled, and can be either simple or pinnately compound. Apart from poison oak, poison ivy and sumac, most other members of the Anacardiaceae live in the tropics. The flowers are generally not highly conspicuous, and can be unisexual or bisexual, with 5 (or sometimes 3) sepals united at the base, and usually 5 petals, although sometimes there are fewer petals or even none. There are 5 or 10 stamens. The superior ovary consists of 3 united carpels forming a single chamber. Only one carpel matures, forming a drupe. Fruit diversity is very high. Several members of the family produce oils, resins and lacquers.




Photograph © Donald Simpson 2005