Areca catechu is the most widely cultivated species in the genus Areca and has been distributed by humans throughout the tropics. As a result of its long history of domestication, the geographic origin of this palm is not known with certainty (similar uncertainty surrounds the origin of Coconut (Cocos nucifera), Peach Palm (Bactris gasipaes ), and Sugar Palm (Arenga pinnata)). However, several origins have been suggested, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Celebes (Sulawesi), Java, New Guinea, and the Andaman Islands.
The seed of this palm ("areca nut") is used in the preparation of betel quid, generally by combining it with slaked lime (which reduces the astringency of the tannins of areca nut; releases its alkaloids, especially arecoline; and aids the overall freshening effect on the mouth, making the betel quid both more palatable and physiologically effective) and the leaf of Piper betle (betel leaf). Areca palm seed is now among the most important stimulant products in the world, used by around 200 to 600 million people globally. It is often said to rank in extent of use below only caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol among addictive plant products. When seeds of this species are unavailable, seeds of certain wild palm species such as Pinanga dicksonii in South India or Areca macrocalyx in the Moluccas and New Guinea are sometimes substituted as inferior alternatives.
The fruit of A. catechu turns a yellow to scarlet color as it ripens and then consists of a thick fibrous pericarp, the so-called husk, that encloses the seed. Like other Areca palms, this species is an understory palm and thrives in humid tropical forests at low to medium elevations. Unlike some other members of its genus, A. catechu readily self-seeds and is tolerant of open conditions Although this species is most often encountered in village gardens, it is also grown on large-scale plantations in some areas, notably in India. Because this palm is planted mainly for betel quid production, fruits and seeds have been the main target for selection by growers, although cultivation for ornamental purposes has increased in recent years. In cultivation, variation is seen in the overall growth habit and the size, shape, color, and even taste of the fruits and seeds. (ZumbroichI 2008; Heatubun et al. 2012 and references therein)
Cultivated from India to the Solomon Islands and less commonly in Africa and Tropical America
State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts"
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Areca catechu
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Areca catechu
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Fruit: Nut is an astringent masticatory. Powdered fruit recommended as a dysentery cure. Seed: Used as a vermifuge in French Guiana.
Areca catechu is a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. The palm is believed to have originated in the Philippines, but is widespread in cultivation and is considered naturalized in southern China (Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan), Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, many of the islands in the Pacific Ocean, and also in the West Indies.
The species has many common names including the areca palm, areca nut palm, betel palm, Indian nut, Pinang palm, Tagalog: bunga, Indonesia/Malay: pinang, Malayalam: അടക്ക adakka, Kannada: ಅಡಿಕೆ Adike, (in Tamil "kamuhu", in Sinhala "Puwak" ). This palm is called the betel tree because its fruit, the areca nut, is often chewed along with the betel leaf, a leaf from a vine of the Piperaceae family.
Areca catechu is a medium-sized and palm tree, growing straight to 20 m tall, with a trunk 10–15 cm in diameter. The leaves are 1.5–2 m long, pinnate, with numerous, crowded leaflets. It is also known as puga in Sanskrit,"puwak" in sinhala and supari in Marathi and Gujarati.
Areca catechu is grown for its commercially important seed crop, the areca nut.
Tanjung Pinang, Pangkal Pinang cities in Indonesia, Indonesian province of Jambi (jambi or jambe is areca in Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese, and Old Malay), Penang Island, off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Fua Mulaku in the Maldives, Guwahati in Assam, and coastal areas of Kerala and Karnataka in India, are some of the places named after a local name for areca nut. Actually, there are numerous city and areal names in Indonesia and Malaysia using the words pinang or jambe. This to shows how important areca nut is in the Austronesian civilization, especially in the modern day Indonesia or Malaysia.
The seed contains alkaloids such as arecaidine and arecoline, which, when chewed, are intoxicating and slightly addictive. Areca palms are grown in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and many other Asian countries for their seeds.
The areca palm is also used as an interior landscaping species. It is often used in large indoor areas such as malls and hotels. It will not fruit or reach full size. Indoors, it is a slow growing, low water, high light plant that is sensitive to spider mites and occasionally mealybugs. The areca nut is also popular for chewing throughout some Asian countries, such as China (mainly Hunan), Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and India and the Pacific, notably Papua New Guinea, where it is very popular. Chewing areca nut is quite popular among working classes in Taiwan. The nut itself can be addictive and has direct link to oral cancers. Areca nuts in Taiwan will usually contain artificial additives such as limestone powder.
An Areca catechu plantation in Taiwan
Areca catechu farm in Kerala, India
Young "betel" nuts in Malaysia
Areca nut at Penang's flag
- "Areca catechu information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Jones, D. (2001), Palms Throughout The World, Reed New Holland, Australia.
- Heatubun, C.D., Dransfield, J., Flynn, T., Tjitrosoedirdjo, S.S., Mogea, J.P. & Baker, W.J. (2012). A monograph of the betel nut palms (Areca: Arecaceae) of East Malesia. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 168: 147-173.
- Kusumoto, Ines Tomoco; Nakabayashi, Takeshi; Kida, Hiroaki; Miyashiro, Hirotsugu; Hattori, Masao; Namba, Tsuneo; Shimotohno, Kunitada (1995). "Screening of various plant extracts used in ayurvedic medicine for inhibitory effects on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease". Phytotherapy Research 9 (3): 180–184. doi:10.1002/ptr.2650090305.
- Thomas and MacLennan (1992). "Slaked lime and betel nut cancer in Papua New Guinea". The Lancet Oncology 340 (8819): 577–578. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(92)92109-S. PMID 1355157.
- Hemantha Amarasinghe (2010). "Betel-quid chewing with or without tobacco is a major risk factor for oral potentially malignant disorders in Sri Lanka: A case-control study". Oral Oncology 46 (4): 297–301. doi:10.1016/j.oraloncology.2010.01.017. PMID 20189448.
- The World Health Organization IARC Expert Group. "IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans, Vol. 37, Tobacco Habits Other than Smoking; Betel-Quid and Areca-nut Chewing; and Some Related Nitrosamines, Lyon". IARCPress.
- Dar, Ahsana; Khatoon, Shagufta (1997). "Antidepressant Effects of Ethanol Extract of Areca catechu in Rodents". Phytotherapy Research 11 (2): 174–176. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199703)11:2<174::AID-PTR65>3.0.CO;2-B.
- Marcello Spinella (2001). The psychopharmacology of herbal medicine: plant drugs that alter mind, brain, and behavior. MIT Press. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-0-262-69265-6. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
French Guiana: arec.
The dry expanded petioles serve as excellent ready made splints for fracture.
Areca catechu (betel nut palm) is chewed for its stimulating effects because of its muscarinic agonistic alkaloids.
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