Sumac / Cashew Family

Poison Oak © TCorelli

Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Woody shrubs and trees
    • Clusters of small pale flowers
    • Fruit a fleshy drupe

    Description and Notes (Jepson)

      • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
        • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
        • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
        • Flower parts in fours and fives
        • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
        • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
        • Taproot system
      • Woody shrubs or trees
      • Leaves
        • Simple (not divided into leaflets) or compound (divided into leaflets)
        • Generally aromatic
        • Alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem)
        • New and aging leaves often turn brilliant shades of red
      • Flowers
        • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) a panicle (branching stem with flowers opening from the bottom up) or raceme (unbranched stem with stalked flowers opening from the bottom up)
        • Small pink or white flowers
          • Usually 5 petals and 5 sepals (usually green, outer flower parts)
          • Usually unisexual, with male and female flowers on separate plants (dioecious)
            • Bisexual and unisexual flowers (either all male or all female) can occur on the same plant
        • Ovary superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
      • Fruit is a drupe (a fleshy fruit with usually 1 seed in a hard inner shell — a stone fruit)


        • Approximately 850 species worldwide
          • Includes cashew, pistachio, and mango
        • Plants have a milky or resinous sap, which may be poisonous or result in contact dermatitis
        • Scientific name from the included genus Anacardium (cashews), from the Greek prefix ana-, “upwards,” and cardium, “heart,” perhaps referring to the nut of the fruit, which is outwardly located
        • Common name from the Assyrian for “turning red”
        • Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is the only representative of this family at Edgewood

        See General References

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