Mark A. Miller
Plant Common Name
Betel Nut Palm, Betel Palm
Towering high above the tropical landscape, this fast-growing, single-stemmed palm from Southeast Asia is valued for its lush foliage and its colorful trunk and fruits. In much of southern Asia its seeds have long been prized as a stimulant.
The smooth tapering trunk of this tall palm is gray toward its base and green toward its tip, with conspicuous pale, bamboo-like bands. Eight to twelve enormous, medium green fronds arch from the trunk's apex, their clasping bases forming a smooth green "crownshaft." The feather-shaped fronds have a central axis ("rachis") with two rows of slightly up-angled, lance-shaped leaflets. In summer, fragrant yellowish white flowers appear in large, spreading clusters just below the crownshaft. The clusters contain both male and female flowers. The female flowers give rise to orange-yellow, egg-shaped fruits. Each contains an acorn-sized "betel nut."
Grow betel palm in full to partial sun in moist, humus-rich, acidic to neutral soil. It is best in regions with warm year-round temperatures. Plant it in clusters of varying heights for the most dramatic effect. Indoors it is suitable only for large tropical houses.
Various forms of betel palm are available in parts of the tropics, including a dwarf selection and cultivars with white, golden yellow, or red crownshafts.
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter