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Piper betle


Piper betle L.

Family Name: Piperaceae
Synonyms: Piper siriboa L.
Common Name: Betel, Betel Vine, Betel Pepper, Betle Pepper, Pan, Sireh

Piper betle, known as Betel or Sireh is a climbing vine with glossy, heart-shaped leaves. This plant is usually cultivated for its leaves where in some countries, they are chewed with slaked lime and in some others, they are used as traditional herbal medicine or for prayers.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 3 m to 4.5 m


Native Distribution Bali, East Indies
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Casual))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A semi-woody branching vine with a sprawling or climbing growth habit.
Foliage Light green to bright green leaves are glossy, deeply veined and hairless. They are heart-shaped with entire leaf margin. The petiole (leaf stalk) is reddish like the stem.
Stems Round stems are orangish to reddish.
Flowers White catkins developed on the nodes, erect or pendulous. Flowers are small, without sepal and petal.
Fruit Fleshy, globose to ellipsoidal shaped. 
Cultivation This species has some drought tolerance, but grows best in fertile, well-drained soil that is kept moist. Propagate by division.
Etymology The genus Piper comes from Sanskrit 'pippali' which means pepper. The specific epithet betle is from the Malayan vernacular name, vettila, for the masticatory leaves, betel. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Medicinal: Leaf extracts have antimicrobial and antioxidant activity (Nalina and Rahim 2007, Dasgupta amd De 2004). They also promoted glucose metabolism in diabetic rats (Santhakumari et al 2006), but might cause cancer when consumed with lime and areca nut (a popular combination known as piper betel quid).
Cultural / Religious: Brass containers of betel nut leaves are swapped to finalized weddings in Bengal. Bride and groom seek blessings from elders by presenting them with betel leaves and areca nuts. 
Others: The combination of leaves, betel nut (fruit of Areca catechu) and slaked lime has stimulating properties when chewed. In traditional Vietnamese weddings, the groom offers the bride's parents betel leaves and areca nuts as part of the bride price.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Hanging Basket, Parks & Gardens, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Lots of Water, Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green, Green - Light Green
Young Flush Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Cordate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire

Non - Foliar and Storage

Root Type Aboveground (Aerial Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Inflorescence Type Spike, Catkin


References Suwanphakdee, C., Simpson, D.A., Hodkinson T.R. & Chantaranothai P. (2020). A synopsis of Thai Piper (Piperaceae). Thai Forest Bulletin (Botany) 48(2): 145-183

Image Repository



Master ID 194
Species ID 1490
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 April 2022.