Areca catechu

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Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
catechu (kah-TEH-koo)
Dwarf. Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Thailand.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
catechu (kah-TEH-koo)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
(Filipino: bunga, Malay: pinang, Malayalam: adakka),

Habitat and Distribution

Areca catechu is found in Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Cambodia,
"Dwarf", Marcus Garden, Hawaii, photo by Paul Craft.
Caroline Is., China South-Central, Fiji, Hainan, India, Laos, Malaya, Marianas, New Guinea, Philippines, Society Is., Solomon Is., Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Taiwan, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.


Reaching 60 feet (20 meter) tall; trunk diameter is 8 - 12 inch (20 – 30 cm). Trunk: solitary, slender and erect. Origin: Indonesia, but now also growing in Suriname. Leaf: up to 7' long, broad leaflets, the tips being jagged. Flower stalk: whitish; sweet scented; from below the crown shaft on a branching spadix. Fruit: orange-yellow when ripe, to 2.5 inch long (betel nuts). It has a fleshy pericarp and fibrous mesocarp. Seed: Areca catechu is grown for the important seed crop, the Betel nut. The nut itself is brown, oval and flattened at one end. Editing by edric.


An easily grown palm for both the tropics and warm sub-tropical areas (it is cold sensitive). It prefers shade as a seedling, but it does take full sun at quite a young age. It likes a moist, well drained soil, and doesn't like to dry out.

Comments and Curiosities

The fruit flesh on the seed has psychoactive properties (stimulating effects) and in South-east Asia is used as such by chewing on the fruit. It produces euphoria, heightened alertness, sweating, salivation, a hot sensation in the body and an increased capacity to work. The alkaloid arecoline found in the nut, accounts for these effects. However there may be undesirable side effects associated with chewing on the fruit such as an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, sweating and body temperature. Betel chewing also increases plasma concentrations of norepinephrine and epinephrine. The Betelnut is also used as an offering in Hinduism.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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