Anacardium excelsum in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Common Uses: Boxes and crates, Construction, Decorative plywood, Decorative veneer, Domestic flooring, Food containers, Furniture, Pulp/Paper products. Find technical and marketing information for lesser-used tropical timber species, LUS. Learn more on our Caracolí, Espave (Anacardium excelsum) page.

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One of the largest and most conspicuous trees of the area, reaching over 2 m in trunk diameter and 40 m tall. No buttresses, but the base of the trunk is often swollen at the roots; big trunks are sometimes hollow.

The bark of big trees is dark brown, gray, or black, usually exce,sum vertical fissures; the inner bark is reddish.

Leaves are simple, alternate, long and narrow, oval-shaped, and densely bunched at the end of branches; the upper veins tend to be yellowish in older leaves. On the ground beneath big trees in the forest, there are usually great piles of blackish leaves. Be aware that leaves on juveniles plants are much longer than those on adults.


Flowers are small, whitish, produced above leaves from December to February.

The fruit is shaped like a kidney, resembling the cashew, matures from March to May, and is dispersed by birds or mammals. Juveniles in urban areas and farmland often appear far from any adult, showing that common birds readily carry the seed.

One of the most abundant trees in the vicinity of Panama City and Gamboa, on both sides of the Canal, and much of the Pacific slope of Panama; in some areas, it wxcelsum nearly pure stands, and it can be especially abundant along streams. But it is a tree of secondary forest and disturbed areas, and there are seldom juveniles in mature forest.

As a consequence, it is not common in old forest of Barro Colorado or Soberania, although the few trees present are immense.

CARACOLí, ESPAVE (Anacardium excelsum)

It is much less common on the Atlantic slope. In the forest, a useful trait is the heavy leaf fall under the crown. But in urban areas and farmland, it is also common as a juvenile, and then it can be confused. A close relative, the cashew, LK anacoc Anacardium occidentaleLK2 has similar leaves and is abundant in farm areas, but the cashew’s leaves are smaller and often reddish, and the cashew has a small and irregular trunk, never straight and tall. The fruit, although resembling cashew, is not edible, but the nut is toasted and consumed locally.


Nuts contain anacardic acid and a caustic oil called cardol.

They are poisonous before they are roasted Blohm, Copa redondeada y con follaje denso. Corteza exterior gris o negra, laminar, a veces con fisuras verticales profundas. Flores verdes o amarillentas. Florece y fructifica de febrero a mayo. Common in woods surrounding rivers, running along the riverside.

Caracolí, Espave (Anacardium excelsum) | ITTO

Tree that reaches from 20 to 40 ezcelsum in height. Its leaves are simple and alternate, grouped in the terminal extremities of the branches. Flowers green or yellowish.

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Tree Atlas of Panama Description: Bocas Species Database Habitat:

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