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Areca catechu

Family Name: Arecaceae (Palmae)
Synonyms: Areca himalayna, Acanthophoenix areca, Areca nigra, Areca hortensis, Areca faufel
Common Name: Areca, Betel-nut Palm, Pinang, Betel Palm, Areca-nut, Pinang Siri, 槟榔
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Roadside Tree / Palm Pinnate / Feather Single Obvious Trunk Palm


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Palm (Solitary Palm)
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 20 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 3 m


Native Distribution Malesia

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A handsome single-stemmed, tropical palm with broad, glossy green, feather-shaped leaves that protrude from a green crownshaft and has a narrow, upright habit.
Trunk Stem solitary, slender, prominently marked with annulated scars of fallen fronds, diameter 40 cm.
Foliage Fronds arching, semi-erect, pinnately-compound with 30-50 leaflets, curving inward with age with a few lowest leaflets often hanging, up to 2 m long.
Others - Plant Morphology Flower: Inflorescences multiple-branching, creamy-white, fragrant, emerging from the lowest leaf bases, up to 0.7 m long. Fruit: Fruits ovoid, orange to scarlet when ripe with fleshy and fibrous layer, single-seeded, 5 to 10 cm long. Seeds brown, ovoid but flattened at one end.
Cultivation It prefers deep, well-drained soils that are slightly acidic to neutral. Able withstand low to medium light but has a low tolerance for salt and wind (crown becomes tattered after strong gusts). Propagated by seeds.
Etymology The genus epithet 'Areca' is derived from a name used by local people on the Malabar coast of India to describe one of the species of this particular genus. The species epithet 'catechu' comes from a Malayan name caccu, which is used for the palm. Betel nut, one of its common names, is misleading when the leaves of Piper betle (commonly known as betel) are often chewed together with the palm's nut and edible lime. Thus by association, it has been conveniently known as betel nut.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: The seed (nut) is chewed by the natives and it stains the lips and teeth red, with the excrement being hot and acrid. Seed (nut) is aromatic and astringent, and can be addictive. It is used against anaemia, fits, leucoderma, leprosy, and obesity, and is also a purgative and an iontment for nasal ulcers. In India, the nut has been used to treat tapeworms. Traditionally, the flowers are used in medicines as charms for the healing of the sick in Borneo. Chewing on the seeds (nuts) produces euphoria, heightened alertness, sweating, salivation, and an increased capacity to work, and alkaloid arecoline, which is found in the nut, accounts for these effects. However, studies have shown that there is an association with oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), pre-cancerous oral lesions and squamous cell carcinoma. Acute effects of chewing betel nuts include asthma, hypotension and tachycardia. Others: The husk fibres has been used to make thick boards, fluffy cushions and non-woven farbric, while the stems were useful building material in the villages and have been widely used for a variety of construction purposes. Tannins, which are found in betel nut, were traditionally being used for dyeing clothes, as adhesives in plywood manufacture, and for tanning leather for home use. Leaves of the betel nut can be used as a fermentation stimulant in industrial alcohol production.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Shape(s) Palm Fronds (Pinnate / Feather)
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 2.5 (Palm - Solitary)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Palm) Single Obvious Trunk, Aboveground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red

Image Repository



Master ID 1294
Species ID 2587
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: 14 October 2021.