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Family: Anacardiaceae R.Br.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Sapindales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • SUMAC FAMILY - English, United States of America
  • CASHEW FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: Subshrubs, shrubs, small trees, or woody vines with alternate leaves that either have 3 leaflets or are pinnately compound (simple in 1 species possibly present in nc TX); flowers small, inconspicuous; fruit a small, red or white to yellowish gray drupe (light brown in 1 species possibly present in nc TX).

Diagnosis: Ours subshrubs, shrubs, small trees, or woody vines, often with somewhat milky juice; leaves alternate, with 3 leaflets or once pinnately compound (simple in 1 species possibly present in nc TX); leaflets entire, toothed, or lobed; flowers small, in terminal or lateral, head-like to loose open panicles, perfect or unisexual, 5-merous; petals white to cream, yellow, or green; stamens 5; pistil 1; fruit a drupe.


Notes: A medium-sized (875 species in 70 genera) family of the tropics and subtropics with a few temperate species. Economically important taxa include food plants such as Anacardium occidentale L. (CASHEW), Mangifera indica L. (MANGO), and Pistacia vera L. (PISTACHIO), and ornamentals including Cotinus (SMOKETREE), Rhus (SUMACS), and Schinus (PEPPERTREE). [a PLANT OF TOXIC/ POISONOUS NATURE]. A number of species cause contact dermatitis. Pistacia chinensis Bunge, (genus: Greek pistake, pistachio; sp.: of China), CHINESE PISTACHIO, native from Afghanistan to China and the Philippines, is widely planted in nc TX as an ornamental. It is a dioecious deciduous tree to 15(-25) m tall with even-pinnately compound leaves (leaflets 10-20, 1.2-2 cm wide, oblique, acuminate, entire), apetalous flowers, and small, reddish to purple, dry drupes 5-6 mm long in much-branched panicles. In the spring of 1998, a number of seedlings were observed in a woods in Fort Worth (R. O'Kennon, pers. obs.). It is not clear whether they will survive and whether this species will become naturalized. This small genus of 9 species includes the Old World P. vera L., PISTACHIO, cultivated for the edible nuts; one species, P. texana Swingle, is native to sw TX. Family name from Anacardium, a genus of 8 species of the New World tropics. (Greek: ana, up, and cardia, heart, possibly in reference to the large, swollen, fleshy, bright red or yellow, pear-like receptacle above the nut; the receptacle is edible and referred to as the cashew apple) (subclass Rosidae)