Sumac Family

Poison Oak © TCorelli

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

Iconic Features

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

Description (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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