Areca whitfordii

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Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
whitfordii (whit-FORD-ee)
Areca whitfordii 001.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genus: Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
whitfordii (whit-FORD-ee)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Philippines: bungan-gubat (Tagalog).

Habitat and Distribution

Southeast Asia - Philippines-(Luzon, Mindoro).

Habitat: Semi-swampy forest, at low elevations, where it can be common in river swamps.


Areca whitfordii is an evergreen, single-stemmed palm that can grow up to 10 metres tall. The unbranched stem can be up to 20cm in diameter and is topped by a crown of large leaves, each up to 2.5 metres long. The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use of its seed, which is used as a substitute for betel nut (Areca catechu). Slash and burn agriculture affects most localities where this plant grows. It is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)

A small to medium-sized, pleonanthic, monoecious palm up to 10 m tall; stem up to 20 cm in diameter. Leaves about 2.5 m long; sheaths forming a prominent, somewhat swollen crownshaft; blade pinnate, with falcate-acuminate leaflets, leaflets with 2-3 prominent ribs, median leaflets about 100 cm × 4.5-5 cm. Inflorescence appearing on the trunk below the crown leaves, 3 times branched, spiciform; spikes numerous, with 1-2 female flowers at base and many male ones above, flowers sessile; male flowers unknown; of the female flowers the sepals ovate, petals longer than the sepals, with a broad triangular point; fruiting perianth cup-shaped, about 15 mm long. Fruit an ellipsoid drupe, 4-5.5 cm × 1.8-2 cm, with a truncate apex, brownish. Seed ovoid-ellipsoid, 2.5-3 cm long, with ruminate endosperm. A. whitfordii grows in semi-swampy areas in the lowland; it may be common in river swamps. (PROSEA)


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Edible Uses: The seeds are used as a substitute for those of areca palm (Areca catechu). These uses are as follows:-

Seed - raw. The seed has mild narcotic properties, it is widely used in some areas of the tropics as a masticatory, being mixed with the leaves of a pepper plant (Piper betle), a gum and, often, lime. Betel seeds contain tannins and alkaloids - these stimulate saliva flow, accelerate heart and perspiration rates, suppress hunger and offer positive protection against intestinal worms. Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. 2019-09-08. <

Madulid, D. 1998. Areca whitfardii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1998: e.T39029A10163123. Downloaded on 08 September 2019.

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).

Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. 2019-09-08. <>

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

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