Areca catechu L.

Last updated: 07 April 2015

Scientific Name

Areca catechu L.


Areca cathechu Burm.f. [Spelling variant], Areca faufel Gaertn. [Illegitimate], Areca himalayana Griff. ex H.Wendl. [Invalid], Areca hortensis Lour. [Illegitimate], Areca macrocarpa Becc., Areca nigra Giseke ex H.Wendl. [Invalid], Sublimia areca Comm. ex Mart. [Invalid] [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Pinang [2], pinang asin, pinang blah, pinang kossi, pinang salai [3], bluk, blokn, blukn, blockn (Sakai) [4]
English Areca palm, areca nut palm, betel palm, betel nut palm[2]adike tree, betel nut, catechu, catechu plam, pinang palm [3]
China Bing lang, chu ping lang, ping lang, pinang[3]
India Addaka, Adakai, adake, adaki, addaka panjayadakka,cakuntum,batullu addike[3]
Indonesia Pinang (Indonesian); jambe (Javanese, Sundanese); pua (Lesser Sunda Islands, the Moluccas) [2]; djambe, jambe, pinang, pinang matah megare, pinang matah merah, pua [3], wohan [4]
Thailand Mak (General) [2][3][4]
Laos Kôk hma:k [2][3]
Philippines Bunga (Tagalog, Bisayas); takotob (Bikol); boa (Iloko) [2]; dapio, hua, lugos, luyos, pasa, takobtok, va, vua [3]
Cambodia Sla, daëm sla [2][3]
Vietnam Cau, binh lang, t[aa]n lang [2], bin lang, cau ,may lang, po lang, tan lang [3]
Japan Binro-ju [3]
Sri Lanka Kamukai, puwak [3]
Brazil Arequeira, noz-de-betel, palmeira-de-betel [3]
Papua New Guinea Buai [2], buatan, magi, m’bu [3]
France Arequier (plant), noix d'arec (fruit) [2][3].

Geographical Distributions

The ex­act origin of Areca catechu is unknown, but most probably originated from central Malaysia where it is known to be of very ancient cultivation and where variability of the genus Areca L. is greatest. A. catechu is only known from cultivation. Seem­ingly wild plants of A. catechu have always turned out to have been planted or distributed by humans. The culti­vation of A. catechu had spread from Malaysia to the Indian subcontinent in pre-historic times and this spread was to continue later, although slower.

A. catechu grows well in humid tropi­cal lowlands. At altitudes above 900 m, fruit quality and germination are adversely affected. It re­quires a high, well-distributed annual rainfall of 1500-5000 mm. A. catechu can be grown on a wide range of soils. It thrives on fertile, well-drained and deep clay loams. [2]

Botanical Description

A. catechu comes from the family of Palmae. It is an erect, slender, unarmed, un­branched, solitary, pleonanthic, monoecious palm, which can reach up to 30 m tall and with a terminal crown of 8-12 leaves. [2]

The root system is dense but superficial where most roots are within 1 m (3.3 ft) m radius from the trunk in the top 60 cm of the soil surface. [2]

The trunk is cylindrical, measures 15-30 m tall, 10-15(-40) cm in diametre, grey-brown, and densely and regularly ringed with leaf scars. [2]

The leaves are arranged spirally (phyllotaxy 2/5), crowded at the top trunk, measure 1-1.5 m long, paripinnate and sheathing. The sheath is 0.5-1 m long and completely encircles the stem like a tube. There are 30-50 pinnae, which are subopposite, linear to lance-shaped and measuring 30-75 cm x 3-7 cm. The longest is at the cen­tre of the blade, longitudinally plaited, with den­tate or irregularly incised apex, and dark green with the upper ones often partly cohering. [2]

The inflorescence is 30-60 cm long, erect and appear­s on the trunk below the leaves crown (infrafo­liar). The tertiary branches are slender, spike-like, measure 15-25 cm long and very fragrant. Before opening, the in­florescence is enclosed by a double boat-shaped bract which opens longitudinally along the upper sur­face. The numerous male flowers are borne above the fe­male flowers, arranged in pairs in 2 rows, sessile, measuring about 6 mm x 3 mm, creamy and deciduous. There are 3 small sepals while the 3 petals are lance-shaped and larger. There are 6 stamens in 2 whorls. The female flowers are borne on the thickened bases of secondary and tertiary branches. There are 1-3 flowers per branch, which measure 1-2 cm x 1 cm, sessile, with persistent pe­rianth of 3 sepals and 3 longer, creamy-white petals. The ovary is trilocular (2 carpels usually abort­ing) and ovoid. There are 3 triangular and fleshy stigmas. [2]

The fruit is an ovoid drupe, measuring 3-6(-10) cm x 2-5 cm, orange to red­dish and usually 1-seeded. The pericarp is fibrous and about 6 mm thick. [2]

The seed (so-called nut) is ovoid, spherical or el­lipsoidal, and measuring 3-4 cm x 2-4 cm. The endosperm ruminates with hard reddish tissue from the inner integument that runs horizontally for some distance into pale brown endosperm. [2]


At present, A. catechu is cultivated pantropically but is of greatest importance in South and Southeast Asia, where it is grown in almost every vil­lage garden. In areas with dry spells, irrigation is needed. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. catechu. L. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Areca catechu L.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2015 Apr 07]. Available from:
  2. Brotonegoro S, Wessel M, Brink M. Areca catechu L. In: van der Vossen HAM, Wessel M, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 16: Stimulants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher; 2000.  p. 51-55.
  3. Umberto Q. CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology (5 Volume Set). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012. p. 369.
  4. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC-IMR: 2002. p.62.