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Areca catechu is the areca palm or areca nut palm, (Filipino: bunga, Malay: pinang, Malayalam: അടക്ക adakka), 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 either Malaysia or the Philippines.[2] Areca is derived from a local name from the Malabar Coast of India and catechu is from another Malay name for this palm, caccu.

This palm is often erroneously 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Growth

It is a medium-sized and graceful 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 and supari in Marathi and Gujarati.

Characteristics

Areca catechu is grown for its commercially important seed crop, the areca nut.

Penang Island, off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Fua Mulaku in the Maldives and Guwahati in Assam,coastal areas of Kerala and Karnataka in India, are some of the places named after a local name for areca nut.

Chemical composition

The seed contains alkaloids such as arecaine and arecoline, which, when chewed, is intoxicating and is also slightly addictive. Areca palms are grown in India, Malaysia, Taiwan and many other Asian countries for their seeds.

The seed also contains condensed tannins (procyanidins) called arecatannins.[3]

Uses

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 Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippine, 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 mouth cancers.[4][5][6] Areca nuts in Taiwan will usually contain artificial additives such as limestone powder.

The extract of Areca catechu has been shown to have antidepressant properties in rodents,[7] but it may be addictive.[8]

Written on February 19th, 2012 , Botany, Forestry Tags:

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