|ARECA CATECHU - BETEL NUT PALM. |
Areca nut, betel nut palm, betelpalm, bing lang, bunga, pinang.
Size: 60 feet (20 meter) tall; trunk diameter is 8 - 12 inch (20 – 30 cm).
Trunk: solitary, slender and erect.
Origin: Indonesia, but now also growing in Suriname.
Leaf: up to 7' long, broad leaflets, the tips being jagged.
Flower stalk: whitish; sweet scented; from below the crown shaft on a branching spadix.
Fruit: orange-yellow when ripe, to 2.5 inch long (betel nuts). It has a fleshy pericarp and fibrous mesocarp.
Seed: Areca catechu is grown for the important seed crop, the Betel nut.
The nut itself is brown, oval and flattened at one end.
The fruit flesh on the seed has psychoactive properties (stimulating effects) and in South-east Asia is used as such by chewing on the fruit.
It produces euphoria, heightened alertness, sweating, salivation, a hot sensation in the body and an increased capacity to work.
The alkaloid arecoline found in the nut, accounts for these effects.
However there may be undesirable side effects associated with chewing on the fruit such as an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, sweating and body temperature.
Betel chewing also increases plasma concentrations of norepinephrine and epinephrine; it is also used as an offering in Hinduism.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the nut is used in the treatment of headaches, fever and rheumatism.
In China, betelnut is used to treat parasitic infection.
Arecoline resembles Pilocarpine and Muscarine in its effect; other alkaloids in betel nut are arecaine, guvacoline and guvacine. Arecanut also contains phenolic compounds (mainly hydroxychavicol and saffrole12), tannin, resin, choline and catechu.
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USDA zone 9B - 11.
Moist soil; needs shade.
The large seeds germinate easy. It is an excellent palm for the (sub) tropics.
It can be successfully cultivated indoors.
Cold sensitive; it does not tolerate cold weather; does poorly at low 30ºs, F., severe cold damage may occur.
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