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Betelnut

(Areca catechu)

Other Names: Areca nut, Supari, Sopari, Penang, Fufel, Puwak, Pugua

Description:
Betel nut comes from the betel or areca palm which grows to about 3 to 5 m tall. The branches grow 3 to 4 m long and the betel nut grows at the base of the branches in clusters of 50 to 100.

Uses:
Betel nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant (arecoline) causing a warming sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness. They are readily available from street vendors in India, Sri Lanka and southern China.

Health:
Betel nut is carcinogenic and chewing it (usually with betel leaves) is known to cause mouth and throat cancer with prolonged use.

Climate:
Betelnut require sunlight and moisture. Lack of sunlight will encourage the tree to grow tall and spindly and will take longer before flowering. Under normal native climatic conditions it should flower and fruit within 4 to 7 years.

Soil:
Betelnut as with all palms require a well draining soil.

Propagation:
Like its relative the coconut palm, betel nut palm is propagated from seed. The seed can take 3 months to germinate. It is usual to start germinating in a propagating medium first and then transplanting to desired location when the seedlings are well established.

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