John Lindley described the "Essential character" of Anacardiaceæ, the "Cashew Tribe" in1831, 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.The genus Pistacia has sometimes beenseparated into its own family, Pistaciaceae, based on the reduced flower structure,differences in pollen, and the feathery style of the flowers. However, the nature of the ovarydoes suggest it belongs in the Anacardiaceae, a position which is supported by morphologicaland molecular studies, and recent classifications have included Pistacia in the Anacardiaceae.
The Anacardiaceae includes primarily trees and shrubs (rarely lianas or sub shrubs), with resincanals and clear to milky exudates. The leaves are estipulate, usually alternate (rarely oppositeor whorled), and may be simple or innately compound (very rarely bi-pinnate;
). The flowers are generally not highly conspicuous but are distinctive in having anintrastaminal nectariferous disc and apotropous ovules (an ovule with a raphe that isventral when ascending and dorsal when descending). Morphological fruit diversity isexceedingly high with a myriad of types found in the family. Although the majority of thefamily has drupaceous fruits, many of these are variously modified for different mechanisms of dispersal and several other fruit types are also represented. Two genera,
, have an enlarged edible hypocarp subtending the drupe. One species of
, lacks the hypocarp and grows in the flooded forests of theAmazon where it may be fish dispersed (Mitchell and Mori, 1987; J. D. Mitchell, pers.com.).Water dispersal has been reported or purported for three genera,
. The variety of mechanisms for wind dispersal include subtending enlarged sepals(
), subtending enlarged petals (
), trichome-covered margins on a globose fruit (
), trichome-coveredmargins on a flattened fruit (
), elm-like samaras with anencircling marginal wing (
), samaras with a single wing (
), dry samara- like syncarps (multiple fruit,
), dryachene-like fruit (
), and elongated ciliate pedicles of sterile flowers on atumbleweed-like infructescence.