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ARECA catechu

Image of Areca catechu

Mark A. Miller

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

ARECA catechu

Plant Common Name

Betel Nut Palm, Betel Palm

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H2

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    35'-100' / 10.7m - 30.5m

  • Width

    8'-12' / 2.4m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Narrow Upright/Fastigiate

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Yellow, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Orange, Gold

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Green, Ivory, Gray

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes