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Betal Nut Palm: Areca catechu


Areca_ca.Remember, palm lovers, the Rogers & Hammerstein song, "Bloody Mary?"  She was always chewing betal nuts!  The Areca catechu has many lovers of its intoxicating betal nuts, in the South Pacific region!

This relatively slender, and relatively diminutive palm is cultivated in the rainforests and other moist lands from India through Malaysia...and throughout the Pacific Islands' Region.  It is cultivated primarily for the tissue surrounding the seeds, which when chewed with the leaves of a pepper vine (Piper betle), and ground lime releases a narcotic stimulant similar to cocaine!   Yes, Bloody Mary...and the many betal nut aficionados in tropical countries, are quite happy!  "And ain't that too damned bad!"

Some characteristics and specifications of Areca catechu are the following:

areca.catechu (16297 bytes)Hardiness Zone: USDA 11 (over 47 degrees F., is optimal) but freezing temperatures are a terminally limiting factor
Growth Rate: Moderate
Origin: Exact Origin unknown; possibly Malaysia or Indonesia.
Typical Height: 30' (26 Meters)
Salt Tolerance: Fairly Low; not a strand palm.
Drought Tolerance: Low!  Not for the arid tropics, friends!
Soil Requirements: Acid soil is best; amend with humus in calcareous soils!
Light Requirements: Moderate to high is best. Young specimens are quite tolerant of lower light environments, surprisingly, however!
Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; organic materials incorporated into the soil is a "plus!"
Propagation:  Seed; germination within 2 to 3 months.
Major Pests: None
Major Disease: Ganoderma butt rot, unfortunately.
Crownshaft: Bright green
Fruit: 2" long; colour is orange or red.

areca_catechu4In frost-free moist climates, the Areca catechu is a wonderful landscape palm because it is appropriately sized for the average contemporary home's lot, bears lovely and colourful fruit (beautiful whether one chooses to chew them, or not!), is free of armed fronds, and shouts "the tropics" with its vibrant green leaf colour!

Paul,"The Wise Gardener!"