What Are the Main Characteristics of Areca Catechu Palm Trees?


Quick Answer

The main characteristics of the areca catechu, or betel nut palm tree, are its nut, which is called the areca or betel nut. The nut is full of slightly addictive alkaloids, even though it also contains carcinogens that are implicated in oral cancers with people who chew the leaves.

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Full Answer

The tree grows up to around 98 feet tall with a trunk that's between 4 to 6 inches around. The leaves can grow to 6 1/2 feet long and are full of leaflets. Besides its nut, the tree is also used in interior landscaping and for private gardens. When grown indoors, the palm does not grow as tall as it might and does not bear fruit.

The flowers produced by the betel nut palm are fragrant and cream-colored or yellow, and both sexes grow on the same tree. The female flowers are considerably larger than the male flowers. The fruit that results from pollination is hard, orange or red, and the prized seed is oval, about 0.6 to 0.7 inches around and has a flat base. Besides providing a mild euphoria, the nut also supports the health of the heart and digestive system. Powdered nut is a treatment for tapeworms.

The betel nut palm is believed to be native to the Philippines and now grows throughout Asia, east Africa and warmer parts of the Pacific. It also grows in the West Indies.

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