Areca catechu

Invasive species Disclaimer

In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

For more information on this subject, please refer to
100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.

Species Index    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Multiple Criteria Search

Abelmoschus moschatus
Acacia aneura
Acacia angustissima
Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia catechu
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia crassicarpa
Acacia elatior
Acacia erioloba
Acacia etbaica
Acacia ferruginea
Acacia glauca
Acacia holosericea
Acacia karroo*
Acacia koa
Acacia laeta
Acacia lahai
Acacia leptocarpa
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia mangium
Acacia mearnsii*
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia mellifera
Acacia nilotica subsp nilotica
Acacia pachycarpa
Acacia pennatula
Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
Acacia saligna
Acacia senegal
Acacia seyal
Acacia sieberiana
Acacia tortilis
Acacia xanthophloea
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
Albizia julibrissin
Albizia lebbeck
Albizia odoratissima
Albizia procera
Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
Albizia zygia
Aleurites moluccana
Allanblackia floribunda
Allanblackia stuhlmannii
Allanblackia ulugurensis
Alnus acuminata
Alnus cordata
Alnus japonica
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus rubra
Alphitonia zizyphoides
Alstonia boonei
Alstonia congensis
Alstonia scholaris
Altingia excelsa
Anacardium occidentale
Andira inermis
Annona cherimola
Annona muricata
Annona reticulata
Annona senegalensis
Annona squamosa
Anogeissus latifolia
Anthocephalus cadamba
Antiaris toxicaria
Antidesma bunius
Araucaria bidwillii
Araucaria cunninghamii
Arbutus unedo
Areca catechu
Arenga pinnata
Argania spinosa
Artemisia annua
Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus heterophyllus
Artocarpus integer
Artocarpus lakoocha
Artocarpus mariannensis
Asimina triloba
Ateleia herbert-smithii
Aucomea klaineana
Averrhoa bilimbi
Averrhoa carambola
Azadirachta excelsa
Azadirachta indica
Azanza garckeana
Related Links
© Trade winds fruit
Ornamental trees
© Rafael T. Cadiz
Habit of fruiting
© Rafael T. Cadiz
Areca catechu wildlings
© Rafael T. Cadiz
Betel nut palms are planted along the property boundary.
© Craig Elevitch

Local names:
English (betelnut palm,arecanut,betel palm,betel-nut,supari palm,pinang palm), Filipino (bunga), French (arec cachou,Arequier), German (Arecapalme,Betelnußpalme), Hindi (adike,poogiphalam,adakka,supari), Italian (Avellana d'India), Malay (adakka-maram,ka

Arecanut is an erect, unbranched palm reaching heights of 12-30 m, depending upon the environmental conditions. The stem, marked with scars of fallen leaves in a regular annulated form, becomes visible only when the palm is about 3 years old. Girth depends on genetic variation and soil conditions. Root system adventitious, typical of monocots.

The adult palm has 7-12 open leaves, each with a sheath, a rachis and leaflets. The leaf stalk extends as the midrib until the end of the leaf and ends as leaflets.

Male flowers very numerous, sessile, without bracts; calyx 1-leaved, small, 3-cornered, 3-parted; petals 3, oblong, rigid striated; stamens 6, anthers sagittate. Female flowers solitary or 2 or 3 at or near the base of each ramification of the spadix, sessile, without bracts; sepals permanent; staminodes 6, connate, styles scarcely any; stigmas 3, short, triangular.

Fruit a monolocular, one-seeded berry, 3.8-5 cm long, smooth orange or scarlet when ripe, with a fibrous outer layer.

The generic name is derived from the common name used by the people of the Malabar Coast in southwestern India.


Arecanut almost always exists in cultivation; therefore, conditions of its natural habitat are difficult to assess. It however thrives in areas of high rainfall. Although tolerant to moderate elevations on mountains, it generally does best in low altitudes. Being a shade-loving species, arecanut always does well when grown as a mixed crop with fruit trees.

Native range
China, Indonesia, Malaysia

Tree management

The spacing for arecanut, a function of soil depth and fertility, varies from 1.25 x 1.25 m to 3.6 x 3.6 m. During the hot weather, young seedlings should be protected from direct sunlight. Artificial shade of arecanut leaves or coconut leaves are often used. Raising a banana shade crop is even better as this supplements the farmer’s income. Arecanut is sensitive to drought, and therefore irrigation is essential in areas with prolonged dry spells. Green manuring using leaves and cattle manure has been applied with success in areas with poor soils.

Seed storage behaviour is uncertain. Despite reports of sensitivity to desiccation, predrying is widely practised in nursery cultivation to promote germination. For example, a report of 52% germination after 21 days drying suggests that A. catechu may not show recalcitrant seed storage behaviour. There are about 63 seeds/kg.

Arecanut almost always exists in cultivation; therefore, conditions of its natural habitat are difficult to assess. It however thrives in areas of high rainfall. Although tolerant to moderate elevations on mountains, it generally does best in low altitudes. Being a shade-loving species, arecanut always does well when grown as a mixed crop with fruit trees.

Arecanut is exclusively seed propagated. Seed nuts are allowed to ripen completely on the tree and then dried in the sun for 1-2 days before sowing 2.5 cm apart in shallow pits. Drying does not seem to improve germination rate.

Poison:  The arecanut decoction as well as arecoline and its salts have been found to be effective on various helminth infections such as those caused by Taenia spp.

Fibre:  The husk fibres are predominantly composed of cellulose with varying proportions of hemi-cellulose, lignin, pectin and protopectin. Based on various tests, it has been proposed that the husk fibre could be used in making such items as thick boards, fluffy cushions and non-woven fabrics. Trial experiments have shown that satisfactory yield and quality of brown wrapping paper could be prepared from blends of arecanut and bamboo or banana pseudostem pulp.

Timber:  Arecanut stem forms a useful building material in the villages, and it is widely used throughout southeast Asia for a variety of construction purposes. The timber can also be used in making a variety of utility articles such as rulers, shelves and waste paper baskets. Nails made from areca stem are widely used in the furniture industry.

Tannin or dyestuff:  Long before the nature and properties of tannins were determined, the tannins in arecanut were being used for dyeing clothes, as adhesives in plywood manufacture, and for tanning leather for home use in southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean countries. The tannins are obtained as a byproduct in preparing immature betelnuts for chewing.

Lipids:  The nut contains 8-12% fat that has characteristics comparable with hydrogenated coconut oil. It contains both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Arecanut fat can be extracted by using hexane as a solvent, and the fat can be made edible by refining it with an alkali. Simple blending of arecanut fat with butterfat followed by inter-esterification gives good products, acceptable in confectioneries.

Medicine:  Arecanut is used against anaemia, fits, leucoderma, leprosy, obesity and worms. In combination with other ingredients, it is also a purgative and an ointment for nasal ulcers. Kernels of green and mature fruits are chewed as an astringent and stimulant, often with the leaves or fruit of betel pepper (Piper betle) and lime.

Ornamental: In Florida and Hawaii, arecanut is used as an ornamental tree.

Soil improver:  The arecanut leaves are a good source of organic manure, containing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

Intercropping:  Experimental evidence indicates that intercropping with arecanut is not harmful to the main crop. When intercropped with black pepper, it acts as a live standard for training the pepper plants. Banana, cardamom, cowpea, paddy, pineapple, sorghum, vegetables and yams are also grown by farmers as intercrops with arecanut.

Alcohol:  Innoculated with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the leaves of arecanut can be used as a fermentation stimulant in industrial alcohol production.