Areca catechu

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Figure 2. A. catechu trunk close-up.


Common Names:

Betel Nut Palm

Distribution & Habitat:

It has been widely cultivated for centuries, so its original home is uncertain, tho it is probably Malaysian rainforest.


A very attractive palm to about 10 m high, with dark green leaves, and an attractive dark green, ringed trunk. It has fragrant, scented, white flowers, which form into orange/scarlet fruit about 50 mm (2 inchs) long.


This plant is a very usefull and attractive addition to garden, because it is one of the few smaller growing sun tolerant feather palms (the other main one is Ptychosperma elegans).

This palm is the basis of a large industry in SE Asia, where the seed is chewed for its intoxicating properties, as well as its supposedly beneficial side effects, such as aiding digestion, and controlling internal parasites and dysentery.

Figure 1. A. catechu with infructescence.


An easily grown palm for both the tropics and warm sub-tropical areas (it is cold sensitive). It prefers shade as a seedling, but it does take full sun at quite a young age. It likes a moist, well drained soil, and doesn't like to dry out.


Palms Throughout The World, David Jones.

Contributed by:

Mike Gray (Figure 1&2)

External Links:

Kew, PalmWeb, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums, PalmTalk