Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Areca catechu
(betelnut palm)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Areca catechu (betelnut palm)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 29 October 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Areca catechu
  • Preferred Common Name
  • betelnut palm
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); farmed plantation. Muringoor, Kerala, India. November 2008.
TitlePlantation
CaptionAreca catechu (betelnut palm); farmed plantation. Muringoor, Kerala, India. November 2008.
Copyright©Challiyan-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY 3.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); farmed plantation. Muringoor, Kerala, India. November 2008.
PlantationAreca catechu (betelnut palm); farmed plantation. Muringoor, Kerala, India. November 2008.©Challiyan-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY 3.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); frond. Walmart, Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.
TitleFrond
CaptionAreca catechu (betelnut palm); frond. Walmart, Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); frond. Walmart, Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.
FrondAreca catechu (betelnut palm); frond. Walmart, Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); young fruits. Malaysia. November 2011.
TitleFruits
CaptionAreca catechu (betelnut palm); young fruits. Malaysia. November 2011.
Copyright©Tu7uh-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY 3.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); young fruits. Malaysia. November 2011.
FruitsAreca catechu (betelnut palm); young fruits. Malaysia. November 2011.©Tu7uh-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY 3.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); fallen fruits. Iao Tropical Gardens of Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2012.
TitleFruits
CaptionAreca catechu (betelnut palm); fallen fruits. Iao Tropical Gardens of Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2012.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); fallen fruits. Iao Tropical Gardens of Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2012.
FruitsAreca catechu (betelnut palm); fallen fruits. Iao Tropical Gardens of Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2012.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); ornamental trees.
TitleOrnamental trees
CaptionAreca catechu (betelnut palm); ornamental trees.
Copyright©Rafael T. Cadiz
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); ornamental trees.
Ornamental treesAreca catechu (betelnut palm); ornamental trees.©Rafael T. Cadiz
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); wildlings.
TitleWildlings
CaptionAreca catechu (betelnut palm); wildlings.
Copyright©Rafael T. Cadiz
Areca catechu (betelnut palm); wildlings.
WildlingsAreca catechu (betelnut palm); wildlings.©Rafael T. Cadiz

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Areca catechu L.

Preferred Common Name

  • betelnut palm

International Common Names

  • English: Arecanut palm; betel nut palm
  • Spanish: palma catechou
  • French: arec cachou; Arequier

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Betelnusspalme
  • India: adakka; adike; pakku; poogiphalam; supari; vakka
  • Italy: Avellana d'India
  • Netherlands: areekpalm; arekanootboom
  • Philippines: areca nut; betelnut; bunga

EPPO code

  • ARMCA (Areca catechu)

Trade name

  • areca nut
  • betel nut

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

The following summary is from Witt and Luke (2017):

Description

Large palm (to 30 m tall) with a straight trunk (25–40 cm in diameter); crown about 2.5 m wide.

Origin

Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Reason for Introduction

As an ornament, or for its seeds, which are chewed as a narcotic.

Invades

Disturbed land, forest edges/gaps, forests, watercourses, floodplains and swamps.

Impacts

A. catechu is shade-tolerant, allowing it to invade undisturbed forest, where it forms large monospecific stands in the understorey, displacing native plants and preventing their regeneration.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Arecales
  •                         Family: Arecaceae
  •                             Genus: Areca
  •                                 Species: Areca catechu

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

Areca catechu L. is one of about 60 species of mostly small or modest-sized monoecious palms found in the understorey of Asian tropical forests. It is classified in the palm subfamily Arecoideae, tribe Areceae.

Description

Top of page

A. catechu is a slender palm with a lifespan of generally 60 years but it can reach up to 100 years old. It has a single cylindrical straight-stemmed trunk, with a diameter ranging from 25 to 40 cm, and is conspicuously ringed by the scars of fallen leaves. Capable of reaching 30 m in height, palms are often smaller, especially when grown in full sun. The sheathing leaf bases form a smooth, greyish crown shaft. The pinnate leaves are 1-1.5 m long, with several dozen obliquely-toothed leaflets. The apical pinnae are fused together to form a fishtail-like shape. The branched flower stems emerge from below the crown shaft, and are roughly 1 m long. The small flowers are arranged in triad clusters of two staminate flowers flanking a slightly larger pistillate flower. The orange or red drupes are 5-6 cm long and 4-5 cm wide, varying from spherical to somewhat flattened, and contain a single seed.

Distribution

Top of page

Growing throughout tropical regions of Asia, the Pacific and parts of east Africa, it is widespread in cultivation and widely naturalized including in the West Indies. A. catechu is thought to have originated in the area encompassed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Celebes (Sulawesi) and New Guinea (Heatubun et al., 2011).

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshUnconfirmed recordPlanted, NaturalCAB Abstracts
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HainanPresent Planted
IndiaPresent
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
-KarnatakaPresent Planted
-KeralaPresent Planted CAB Abstracts
-MaharashtraPresent Planted
-OdishaUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
-West BengalUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
IndonesiaPresentPlanted, Natural
MalaysiaPresentPlanted, Natural
MyanmarPresentWitt and Luke, 2017
PakistanPresent Planted
PhilippinesPresentPlanted, Natural
Sri LankaPresentPlanted, Natural
TaiwanUnconfirmed record Planted CAB Abstracts
ThailandPresentWitt and Luke, 2017
VietnamPresentWitt and Luke, 2017

Africa

KenyaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Areca catechu is monoecious, with separate staminate and pistillate flowers borne on the same inflorescence. The palms are insect pollinated. Little is recorded in detail about the species’ reproductive biology. The palms are diverse in flowering and fruiting season depending on the area in which they are grown. Palms usually begin to flower and fruit after 7 years from seed. Betel nuts mature in 6-8 months after pollination of the female flowers.

It requires a warm, humid tropical climate and elevations below 1000 m to thrive and is damaged at 0°C. Optimum performance is obtained with annual rainfall in excess of 500 mm, but it responds favourably to irrigation in drier climates. In the wild, it is usually found at the margins of rainforest or below the canopy; in time it may penetrate the upper strata of vegetation. It colonizes secondary forest readily. The palm grows on a variety of soils, as long they have good water-holding capacity.

This species is also used in agroforestry systems, intercropped with annuals, particularly tubers (Nair, 1983). It is also grown with other crops, such as cocoa (Theobroma cacao), to provide a cool, shady microclimate (Bhat, 1988).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20 5 0 900

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 16
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 28 32
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 33 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 18 24

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration36number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall10005000mm; lower/upper limits

Uses

Top of page

Dried arecanuts, known also as betel nuts, are either ground into powder or sliced. Slices are typically enclosed within a leaf of betel pepper (Piper betle), mixed with various spices (especially cloves), some lime and sometimes tobacco. Powdered betel may be carried about in a pouch and taken like tobacco snuff. The nuts are chewed at social occasions and after meals. They sweeten the breath, especially if mixed with spices. Chewing the nuts stains saliva red and sustained use will turn the gums and teeth black. The chewing of arecanut partially acts as a stimulant, but is also believed to strengthen teeth and gums, as well as suppressing appetite. Chewing arecanut sometimes results in oral carcinoma. The origin and dispersal of arecanut and its chewing habit is comprehensively reviewed by Zumbroich (2008).

A large number of folk medicinal uses for the nuts are also recorded (Duke, 2001). Black and red dyes are also manufactured from the nuts. The fibrous mesocarp is an important industrial product used for insulation and particle board.

References

Top of page

Amarasinghe, H. K., Usgodaarachchi, U. S., Johnson, N. W., Lalloo, R., Warnakulasuriya, S., 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

Ananda, K. S., Thampan, C., 1999. Promising cultivars and improved varieties of arecanut (Areca catechu L.). Indian Journal of Arecanut, Spices and Medicinal Plants, 1(1), 24-29.

Bavappa KVA, 1980. Plantation crops- Areca nut. In: Handbook of Agriculture, New Delhi, India: Indian Council Agricultural Research, 865-920

Bhat KS, 1988. Growth and performance of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) and arecanut (Areca catechu L.) under mixed cropping system. Proceedings of the Tenth International Cocoa Research Conference, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 17-23 May 1987, 15-19; 6 ref

Brown WH, 1920. Minor Products of Philippine Forests. Vol. 1. Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing

Central Plantation Crop Research Institute, 1959. Package of practices for Areca nut. Pamphlet No. 2E. Kasagrod, India: Central Plantation Crop Research Institute

Chen HsinHsiung, Chen HH, 1994. Betel palm [Areca catechu] - another killer of water resources in Taiwan. Quarterly-Journal-of-the-Experimental-Forest-of-National-Taiwan-University, 8: 2, 99

Chen HsinHsiung, Chen HH, 1996. Investigation and study on different land uses in relation to water resource conservation efficiency. Quarterly Journal of the Experimental Forest of National Taiwan University, 10: 1, 25

Duke, J. A., 1989. Handbook of nuts, CRC Press, Inc.343 pp.

Fan HaiKuo, Huang LiYun, Zhou HuanQi, Chen LiangQiu, Feng MeiLi, Tang LongXiang, 2007. Areca and its cultural techniques. South China Fruits, (4), 27-29.

Florido HB, Arcilla R, 1992. Research Information Series on Ecosystems. Laguna, Philippines: Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Florido HB, Arcilla R, 1992. Research Information Series on Ecosystems. Laguna, Philippines: Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Florido HB, Arcilla R, eds, 1992. African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis Jacq. Bunga, Areca catechu L. RISE - Research Information Series on Ecosystems. Special Issue No. 1, vi + 16 pp; 2 ref, 5 ref

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(2), 147-173. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1095-8339 doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2011.01199.x

Hu SuCherng, Hu SC, 1993. Effects of growing betel palms on steep slopes of hydrological properties and erodibility of soils in Lien hua chi area, Central Taiwan. Bulletin of the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, 8(4):271-276; 14 ref

Janick, J., Paull, R. E., 2008. CABI.xviii + 954 pp.

Joshi RM, Thakare GG, Borude SG, 1995. Economics of production of arecanut in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Indian Cocoa, Arecanut and Spices Journal, 19(1):14-17; 5 ref

MacDicken KG, 1990. Agroforestry management in the humid tropics. In: Kenneth G, MacDicken, Napoleon T, eds. Agroforestry Classification and Management. Vergara, 98-125

Menon KPV, Pandalai KM, 1958. The Coconut Palm. A monograph. Errakulam, India: Indian Central Coconut Committee

Nair PKR, 1984. Agroforestry with coconuts and other tropical plantation crops. In: Huxley P, ed. Plant Research and Agroforestry Proceedings of a Consultative meeting held in Nairobi, 8 to 15 April 1981, 79-102

Nair, K. P. P., 2010. The agronomy and economy of important tree crops of the developing world, Elsevier.xiv + 351 pp.

Nelliat EV, Bhat KS, 1979. Multiple cropping in coconut and areca nut gardens. Tech. Bull. 3. Kasangod, India: Central Plantation Crops Research Institute

Plaseknett DL, 1979. Managing Pasture and Cattle under Coconuts. Colorado, USA: Westview Press Boulder

Quisumbing E, 1951. Achuete, Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Manila, Philippines: JMC Press Inc

Rao GKR, Mohanan RC, 1995. Incidence of stem canker of cocoa grown under different cropping systems. Indian Cocoa, Arecanut and Spices Journal, 19(2):35-37; 11 ref

Singh RK, Baranwal VK, 1993. Arecanut based high density multiple species cropping system for Northern region of West Bengal. Indian Cocoa, Arecanut and Spices Journal, 16(3-4):97-100; 5 ref

Singh RK, Yadukumar N, RoyBurman KN, Roy AC, 1982. Intercropping in Arecanut gardens in north Bengal. Indian Farming, 32:13-15

Singh SP, 1989. Wasteland development. New Delhi, India: Agricole

Sulladmath VV, 1995. Survival and spread of basal stem rot in coconut and arecanut palms. Current Research - University of Agricultural Sciences (Bangalore), 24(10):175-176; 2 ref

Tejwani KG, Gholz HL, 1987. Agroforestry practices and research in India. Agroforestry: realities, possibilities and potentials, 109-136; 90 ref

Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI.vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000

Zumbroich, T.J., 2008. The origin and diffusion of the betel chewing: a synthesis of evidence from South Asia, Southeast Asia and beyond. Electronic Journal of Indian Medicine 1: 63-116

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map