Semecarpus anacardium, commonly known as the marking nut tree, phobi nut tree and varnish tree, is a native of India, found in the outer Himalayas to the Coromandel Coast. It is closely related to the cashew.
Semecarpus anacardium was called the "marking nut" by Europeans because it was used by washermen to mark cloth and clothing before washing, as it imparted a water insoluble mark to the cloth.
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It is a deciduous tree. Like the closely related cashew, the fruit is composed of two parts, a reddish-orange accessory fruit and a black drupe that grows at the end. The nut is about 25 millimetres (1 in) long, ovoid and smooth lustrous black. The accessory fruit is edible and sweet when ripe, but the black fruit is toxic and produces a severe allergic reaction if it is consumed or its resin comes in contact with the skin. The seed inside the black fruit, known as godambi (गोडंबी), is edible when properly prepared.
It is used for improving sexual power and increasing sperm count, curing diseases related to the digestive system and balancing phlegm (Sanskrit: kapha doṣa, कफ दोष) in the body. It is said that, no phlegm remains after it is treated with this fruit. The red-orange part is collected and dried in the sun. It is consumed after it is semi-dried. If consumed in very large quantities, it is said to induce abortion. However, in moderation it is considered good for the female reproductive system.
Apart from its medicinal properties, it is also poisonous without any purification and the oil from its seeds can give blisters and painful wounds.
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- "Semecarpus anacardium". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 13 April 2019.
- Henriette's Herbal Homepage
- Hugh F. Glen (2004). What's in a Name. Jacana. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-77009-040-8.
(Greek ana = upwards + kardia = heart); applied by 16th-century apothecaries to the fruit of the marking nut, Semecarpus anacardium, and later used by Linnaeus as a generic name for the cashew.
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