Semecarpus anacardium (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Semecarpus anacardium L.f.

Family: Anacardiaceae

Vernacular names

  • Marking-nut tree, oriental cashew nut (En)
  • Thailand: rakkhon (Kanchanaburi).


Originating from India, now also cultivated in Africa, Australia, and occasionally in South-East Asia.


The swollen pedicel looks like a fruit and is eaten after roasting; the kernel may be eaten, but needs careful shelling. Juice from the false fruit, mixed with lime water, gives a black marking ink. The nuts are used in tanning, the false fruits in dyeing. The pericarp contains about 9% of an irritating oil which is used in traditional medicine, but also in industry (in lacquers, paints, insulating material). The wood is used as charcoal.


  • Tree, up to 15 m tall.
  • Leaves simple.
  • Flowers unisexual, seldom bisexual, greenish.
  • Fruit a globose-ovoid drupe, reniform, 2 cm × 2.5 cm, black; hypocarp fleshy, equal to drupe.

On hill slopes, usually between 500-1000 m altitude. In India flowering in May-July, fruiting in March.

Selected sources

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. 2nd ed. 2 Volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2444 pp.
  • Matthew, K.M., 1981-1983. The flora of the Tamilnadu Carnatic. 3 Volumes. The Rapinat Herbarium, Tiruchirapalli, India.
  • van Steenis, C.G.G.J. et al. (Editors), 1950-. Flora Malesiana. Series 1. Vol. 1, 4-10. Centre for Research and Development in Biology, Bogor, Indonesia, and Rijksherbarium, Leiden, the Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London.


P.C.M. Jansen, J. Jukema, L.P.A. Oyen, T.G. van Lingen