Areca catechu L.

Etymology Genus After the Malabar common name of the palm
Species After cacho, the Portuguese common name
Family Arecaceae
Synonyms Areca cathechu Burm.f.
Common Names Betel Nut Palm, Areca Nut Palm, Pinang
Status Exotic: Casual
Form Single-stem palm
Native Distribution Probably Southeast Asia


Areca catechu is a very common cultivated palm among parks and housing estates. I always imagine it as a very tall but severely underweight palm. This is because the stem is very slender but can reach up to 30m, and the fronds are arching and short. The tip of the leaflets end abruptly with jagged edges.

Interesting Facts:

The Betel Nut Palm has been cultivated widely for centuries (Wee, 2003), but the native origin is unknown as no one has found a wild plant so far (Whitmore, 1998). The economic value of this palm comes from the seed, which is sliced and wrapped using the leaf of a pepper (Piper betel), and chewed together with some slaked lime and gambier or cutch (Whitmore, 1998). The chewing taints the saliva red and is spat out. It is a popular pasttime in many parts of Asia.

Medical authorities have attributed Betel Nut chewing as a cause for cancer, especially when tobacco is added (WHO, 2003).

The Betel Nut Palm has a tall form and short fronds.

The fruits, riping to orange.

The leaflets have tips with jagged edges.

The stem.


WHO. (2003) IARC Monographs Programme finds betel-quid and areca-nut chewing carcinogenic to humans. World Health Organisation, United States. Accessed on 14-Jul-2013.
Wee YC. (2003) Tropical Trees and Shrubs: A Selection for Urban Planting. Sun Tree Publishing, USA. 392 pp.
Whitmore TC. (1998) Palms of Malaya. White Lotus, Thailand. 136 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-07-14 / Modified: 2017-12-25