Thursday, January 29, 2009
Pinang Tree / Betel Nut Palm (Areca catechu L.)
Pinang Tree / Betel Nut Palm is a straight and graceful palm tree growing in most tropical countries. It is native to Malaysia tropical rainforest. It is a palm exhibiting a slender single trunk, up to 10 m tall and about 20 cm wide, green at first, subsequently greyish and ringed by the remains of leaf scars. Its leaves, borne at stem apex, are pinnate, with a rigid but recurved rachis and several rigid, closely packed segments. Flowers, yellow and fragrant, are unisexual, clustered in inflorescences basally arising from the leaves, and enveloped by two spathes; male flowers are more numerous and located at inflorescence apex, whilst female flowers, less numerous, are to be found near the base. Fruits are hard, ovoid, red-orange coloured; they possess a fibrous mesocarp and a thin woody endocarp enveloping one seed.
How to grow
The betel palm prefers moist soil with excellent drainage and a moist tropical climate. It is too tender to grow outside of the tropics and does not tolerate drought. It is cold sensitive. USDA hardiness zone is 10 - 11. They cannot withstand temperature below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A slow growing graceful palm reaches 80 feet in the wild. Grown indoors as a container plant it is kept in check.
This plant is a very usefull and attractive addition to garden, because it is one of the few smaller growing sun tolerant feather palms. Seeds of this palm, incorrectly known as betel nuts, are widely employed, notably in South-East Asia, as a masticatory, due to its stimulating, digestive and cardiotonic properties, exerted by tannin and alkaloid substances present in them. The seeds contain arecalin, a stimulant, and are the betel nuts that color the teeth and mouth red, when chewed. Medicinally, the betel nut is used to treat intestinal worms.. In addition, its vegetating buds are often used as palm cabbage.