Areca catechu L.
Synonym : Areca hortensis Lour.
Family : Arecaceae
Local Names : Adakkamaram, Kavungu, Areca palm, Betel nut palm
Flowering and fruiting period: Throughout the year
Distribution: Cultivated from India to the Solomon Islands and less commonly in Africa and Tropical America
IUCN status: Data Deficient
Uses: Fruits edible, tender leaves edible. Seed (nut) is aromatic and astringent, and can be addictive. It is used against anaemia, fits, leucoderma, leprosy, and obesity, and is also a purgative and an ointment for nasal ulcers. In India, the nut has been used to treat tapeworms. Chewing on the seeds (nuts) produces euphoria, heightened alertness, sweating, salivation, and an increased capacity to work, and alkaloid arecoline, which is found in the nut, accounts for these effects. Tannins, which are found in betel nut, were traditionally being used for dyeing clothes.
Key Characters: Stem erect, hooped, unarmed. Leaves in a terminal crown; leaflets many, linear or linear-lanceolate. Spadices several on the axils of fallen leaves, branched; spikes flexuous or straight. Spathes boat-like. Flowers monoecious; lower ones female; upper ones male. Male flowers: sepals 3, triangular; petals 3, ovate, white; stamens 6. Female flowers: sepals obovate; ovary oblong. Fruit orange-red in colour.