What do mangoes, cashews, pistachios, and poison ivy have in common?

Deepti Pradhan
4 min readJun 29, 2017

Answer: A loan-word from Japanese — “urushi”, and then some.

Writing box with cranes, Japan, Edo period, 1603–1868 AD, wood, black lacquer, gold and silver maki-e — Linden-Museum — Stuttgart, Germany (Wikipedia)

Lacquered objects from Asia are highly treasured works of art. Lacquering was a complicated and sensitive process where the sap of the urushi tree was used to repeatedly coat the object, yielding a smooth and shiny finish. The sap from the urushi tree, or the Asian lacquer tree…

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Deepti Pradhan

Employed at Yale University, Deepti is primarily a scientist & patient advocate. She runs Tilde Cafe, a forum to make science accessible (www.tildecafe.org)