Areca catechu

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Areca palm
Beetle palm with nut bunch.jpg
Fruiting specimen
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Areca
Species: A. catechu
Binomial name
Areca catechu
  • Areca faufel Gaertn.
  • Areca hortensis Lour.
  • Areca cathechu Burm.f.
  • Sublimia areca Comm. ex Mart.
  • Areca himalayana Griff. ex H.Wendl.
  • Areca nigra Giseke ex H.Wendl.
  • Areca macrocarpa Becc.

Areca catechu is a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. The palm is believed to have originated in the Philippines,[1] but is widespread in cultivation and is considered naturalized in southern China (Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan), Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Ceylon, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, many of the islands in the Pacific Ocean, and also in the West Indies.[2][3][4]

The species has many common names[1] including the areca palm, areca nut palm, betel palm, Indian nut, Pinang palm, Chinese language/Mandarin: "檳榔", Tamil: கமுகு, Tagalog: bunga, Indonesia/Malay: pinang,[5] Tamil:"கமுகு" "kamuhu" Malayalam:adakka, Kannada: Adike. This palm is called the betel tree because its fruit, the areca nut, is often chewed along with the betel leaf, a leaf from a vine of the family Piperaceae.

Areca is derived from a local name from the Malabar Coast of India and catechu is from another Malay name for this palm, caccu.


Areca catechu is a medium-sized and palm tree, growing straight to 20 m tall, with a trunk 10–15 cm in diameter. The leaves are 1.5–2 m long, pinnate, with numerous, crowded leaflets. It is also known as puga in Sanskrit,"puwak" in sinhala and supari in Marathi and Gujarati. Normally areca catechu known as pinang tree in Malaysia


19th century drawing of Areca catechu

Areca catechu is grown for its commercially important seed crop, the areca nut.

Tanjung Pinang, Pangkal Pinang cities in Indonesia, Indonesian province of Jambi (jambi or jambe is areca in Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese, and Old Malay), Penang Island, off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Fua Mulaku in the Maldives, Guwahati in Assam, and coastal areas of Kerala and Karnataka in India, are some of the places named after a local name for areca nut. Actually, there are numerous city and areal names in Indonesia and Malaysia using the words pinang or jambe. This to shows how important areca nut is in the Austronesian civilization, especially in the modern day Indonesia or Malaysia.

Chemical composition[edit]

The seed contains alkaloids such as arecaidine and arecoline, which, when chewed, are intoxicating and slightly addictive. Areca palms are grown in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and many other Asian countries for their seeds.

The seed also contains condensed tannins (procyanidins) called arecatannins[6] which are carcinogenic.


The areca nut is also popular for chewing throughout some Asian countries, such as China (mainly Hunan), Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, and India and the Pacific, notably Papua New Guinea, where it is very popular. Chewing areca nut is quite popular among working classes in Taiwan. The nut itself can be addictive and has direct link to oral cancers.[7][8] Areca nuts in Taiwan will usually contain artificial additives such as limestone powder. The extract of Areca catechu has been shown to have antidepressant properties in rodents,[9] but it may be addictive.[10]

The areca palm is also used as an interior landscaping species. It is often used in large indoor areas such as malls and hotels. It will not fruit or reach full size. Indoors, it is a slow growing, low water, high light plant that is sensitive to spider mites and occasionally mealybugs.

In India the dry, fallen leaves are collected and hot-pressed into disposable palm leaf plates and bowls.[11]



  1. ^ a b c "Areca catechu information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  2. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Jones, D. (2001), Palms Throughout The World, Reed New Holland, Australia.
  4. ^ Heatubun, C.D., Dransfield, J., Flynn, T., Tjitrosoedirdjo, S.S., Mogea, J.P. & Baker, W.J. (2012). A monograph of the betel nut palms (Areca: Arecaceae) of East Malesia. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 168: 147-173.
  5. ^ Simon Gardner, Pindar Sidisunthorn and Lai Ee May, 2011. Heritage Trees of Penang. Penang: Areca Books. ISBN 978-967-57190-6-6
  6. ^ Kusumoto, Ines Tomoco; Nakabayashi, Takeshi; Kida, Hiroaki; Miyashiro, Hirotsugu; Hattori, Masao; Namba, Tsuneo; Shimotohno, Kunitada (1995). "Screening of various plant extracts used in ayurvedic medicine for inhibitory effects on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease". Phytotherapy Research. 9 (3): 180–184. doi:10.1002/ptr.2650090305. 
  7. ^ Thomas and MacLennan (1992). "Slaked lime and betel nut cancer in Papua New Guinea". The Lancet. 340 (8819): 577–578. PMID 1355157. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(92)92109-S. 
  8. ^ Hemantha Amarasinghe (2010). "Betel-quid chewing with or without tobacco is a major risk factor for oral potentially malignant disorders in Sri Lanka: A case-control study". Oral Oncology. 46 (4): 297–301. PMID 20189448. doi:10.1016/j.oraloncology.2010.01.017. 
  9. ^ Dar, Ahsana; Khatoon, Shagufta (1997). "Antidepressant Effects of Ethanol Extract of Areca catechu in Rodents". Phytotherapy Research. 11 (2): 174–176. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199703)11:2<174::AID-PTR65>3.0.CO;2-B. 
  10. ^ Marcello Spinella (2001). The psychopharmacology of herbal medicine: plant drugs that alter mind, brain, and behavior. MIT Press. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-0-262-69265-6. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Palm Leaf Plates on the website TheWholeLeafCo.dom; viewed in September 2016

External links[edit]