Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
(R.Br.) Lindl.
Type genus

See text.

The Anacardiaceae are a family of flowering plants commmonly known as the cashew or sumac family, including about 83 genera with about 860 known species.[1] Members of the Anacardiaceae bear fruits that are drupes and in some cases produce urushiol, an irritant. The Anacardiaceae include numerous genera, several of which are economically important, notably cashew (in the type genus Anacardium), mango, poison ivy, sumac, smoke tree, marula, yellow mombin, and cuachalalate. The genus Pistacia (which includes the pistachio and mastic tree) is now included, but was previously placed in its own family, the Pistaciaceae.[2]

Selected genera


Lannea grandis in Banten, Indonesia

Trees or shrubs, each has inconspicuous flowers and highly poisonous, sometimes foul-smelling resinous or milky sap.[3] Resin canals located in the inner fibrous bark of plants' fibrovascular system found in the stems, roots, and leaves are characteristic of all members of this family; resin canals located in the pith are characteristic of many of the cashew family species and several species have them located in the primary cortex or the regular bark. Tannin sacs are also widespread among the family.[4]

The wood of the Anacardiaceae has the frequent occurrence of simple small holes in the vessels, occasionally in some species side by side with scalariform holes (in Campnosperma, Micronychia, and Heeria argentea (Anaphrenium argenteum). The simple pits are located along the vessel wall and in contact with the parenchyma.[4]

Leaves are alternate or rarely opposite[5] and without stipule.[3]

Flowers grow at the end of a branch or stem or at an angle from where the leaf joins the stem and have bracts.[3] Often with this family, bisexual and male flowers occur on some plants, and bisexual and female flowers are on others, or flowers have both stamens and pistils (perfect). A calyx with three to seven cleft sepals and the same number of petals, occasionally no petals, overlap each other in the bud. Stamens are twice as many or equal to the number of petals, inserted at the base of the[5] fleshy ring or cup-shaped disk, and inserted below the pistil(s).[3] Stamen stalks are separate, and anthers are able to move.[5] Flowers have the ovary free, but the petals and stamen are borne on the calyx.[3] In the stamenate flowers, ovaries are single-celled. In the pistillate flowers, ovaries are single or sometimes quadri- or quinticelled. One to three styles and one ovule occur in each cavity.[5]

Fruits rarely open at maturity[3] and are most often drupes.[5]

Seed coats are very thin or are crust-like. Little or no endosperm is present. Cotyledons are fleshy.[5] Seeds are solitary with no albumen around the embryo.[3]


In 1759, Bernard de Jussieu arranged the plants in the royal garden of the Trianon at Versailles, according to his own scheme. That classification included a description of an order called the Terebintaceæ which contained a suborder that included Cassuvium (Anacardium), Anacardium (Semecarpus), Mangifera, Connarus, Rhus and Rourea. In 1789, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu, nephew of Bernard de Jussieu, published that classification scheme.[6]

Robert Brown described a subset of the Terebintaceae called Cassuvlæ or Anacardeæ in 1818, using the herbarium that was collected by Christen Smith during a fated expedition headed by James Kingston Tuckey to explore the River Congo. The name and genera were based on the order with the same name that had been described by Bernard de Jussieu in 1759. The herbarium from that expedition contained only one genus from the family, Rhus.[7]

Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1824, used Robert Browns name Cassuvlæ or Anacardeæ, wrote another description of the group and filled it with the genera Anacardium, Semecarpus, Holigarna, Mangifera, Buchanania, Pistacia, Astronium, Comocladia and Picramnia.[8]

John Lindley described the "Essential character" of the Anacardiaceæ, the "Cashew Tribe" in 1831, adopting the order that was described by Jussieu, but abandoning the name Terebintaceæ. He includes the genera which were found in de Candolle's Anacardieæ and Sumachineæ: Anacardium, Holigarna, Mangifera, Rhus and Mauria.[3]

The genus Pistacia has sometimes been separated into its own family, the Pistaciaceae, based on the reduced flower structure, differences in pollen, and the feathery style of the flowers.[2] However, the nature of the ovary does suggest it belongs in the Anacardiaceae, a position which is supported by morphological and molecular studies, and recent classifications have included Pistacia in the Anacardiaceae.[2][9][10]

Taxonomy references
Lindley, F.R.S., John; Torrey, M.D., John (1831). An Introduction to the Natural System of Botany: or A Systematic View of the Organization, Natural Affinities, and Geographical Distribution of the Whole Vegetable Kingdom; Together with the Uses of the Most Important Species in Medicine, the Arts and Rural or Domestic Economy (First American ed.). New York: G. & C. & H. Carvill. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
Turpin, Pierre Jean François; Jussieu, Antoine-Laurent de (1828). "Térébintacées". Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelles, Dans Lequel on Traite Méthodiquement des Différens Êtres de la Nature, Considérés Soit en Eux-Mêmes, d’Aprés l’État Actuel de nos Connoissances, soit Relativement à l’Utilité Qu’en Peuvent Retirer la Médecine, l’Agriculture, le Commerce et les Arts (in French). Volume 53. Strasbourg: G. Levrault. pp. 120–126. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de; Candolle, Alphonse de (1825). Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis: sive enumeratio contracta ordinum generum specierumque plantarum huc usque cognitarum, juxta methodi naturalis normas digesta. Pars Secunda (in Latin). Paris: Sumptibus Victoris Masson. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
Kunth, C. S. (1824). "Terebintacearum Genera: denuo ad examen revocare, characteribus magis accuratis distinguere, inque spetem familias, distribuere conatus est". Annales des Sciences Naturelles (in French). Paris: Chez Bechet Jeune. Tome Second. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
Brown, F.R.S., Robert; Tuckey, James Kingston; Christen, Smith (1818). "Observations, Systematical and Geographical, on Professor Christian Smith's Collection of Plants from the Vicinity of the River Congo". Narrative of an Expedition to Explore the River Zaire Usually Called the Congo, in South Africa, in 1816, Under the Direction of Captain J.K. Tuckey, R.N., to Which is Added, the Journals of Professor Smith; Some General Observations on the Country and its Inhabitants; and an Appendix: Containing the Natural History of that Part of the Kingdom Congo Through Which the Zaire Flows. London: John Murray. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
Bernard de, Jussieu (1789). Genera plantarum :secundum ordines naturales disposita, juxta methodum in Horto regio parisiensi exaratam, anno M.DCC.LXXIV (in Latin). Paris: Apud Viduam Herissant et Theophilum Barrois. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 


The cashew family is more abundant in warm or tropical regions with only a few species living in the temperate zones.[5] Mostly native to tropical Americas, Africa and India. Pistacias and some species of Rhus can be found in southern Europe, Rhus species can be found in much of North America and Schinus inhabit South America exclusively.[3]


Members of this family produce cashew and pistacia nuts and others produce mango and marula fruits.[3]

Some members produce a viscous or adhesive fluid which turns black and is used as a varnish or for tanning and even as a mordant for red dyes.[3]

Medicinally the edible nuts from this family have a reputation for being good for the brain.[3]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anacardiaceae.
  1. Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. Magnolia Press. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.
  2. 1 2 3 Tingshuang Yi; Jun Wen; Avi Golan-Goldhirsh; Dan E. Parfitt (2008). "Phylogenetics and reticulate evolution in Pistacia (Anacardiaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 95 (2): 241–251. doi:10.3732/ajb.95.2.241. PMID 21632348.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Natural System of Botany (1831), pages 125-127
  4. 1 2 Systematic Anatomy, (1908), page 244-248
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Northern United States (1897), page 25
  6. Genera plantarum (1789) pages 368-369
  7. Expedition... (1818) Appendix V, pages 430-431
  8. Prodromus Systematis Naturalis (1824), pages 62-66
  9. Pistaciaceae Martinov, GRIN Taxonomy for Plants, accessed 28 March 2010
  10. James L. Reveal, USDA - APHIS -- Concordance of Family Names, last revised 25 October 2006


External links

Media related to Anacardiaceae at Wikimedia Commons Data related to Anacardiaceae at Wikispecies

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