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Areca catechu

Plant Location : Sivasagar District, Assam, India

Areca catechu is a medium-sized palm tree in the family Arecaceae. The common names of the palm tree are areca palm, areca nut palm, betel palm, betel nut palm, Indian nut, Pinang palm, and catechu. The other common names in India are (in Assamese) (তামোল), Tamul or Tamol, (in Hindi) Chamarpushpa, Supari, (in Manipuri) Kwa pambi (in Marathi) Pophali, (in Tamil), Kuntar-kamaku, (in Malayalam) Kavung (in Telugu) Kramuka, (in Bengali) Supari, etc. This palm is cultivated in the Philippines, southern China, Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, many of the islands in the Pacific Ocean, and also in the West Indies. In Assam, India, there is a vast cultivation of betel nut palms. There is a respectful position for betel nuts in the rituals of Assamese society.

The fruits of the betel tree, the areca nuts, are sewed along with betel leaf (Piper betle L.) in betel nut producing countries. In India, dry betel nuts are popularly called supari, which is an essential ingredient of paan. In India, the areca nut has a sizable commercial market. Sewing areca nuts is addictive and excessive sewing leads to oral disease.

Areca catechu has a lifespan of generally 60 years and grows up to 40 to 50 feet. The stem of the betel palm is erect, unbranched, cylindrical, with a diameter of 20 to 30 cm. The leaves are 1.5–2 m long; even pinnate, crowded leaflets are linear to lanceolate; leaves are in a terminal crown, to 2 m long; base is a narrow cylindrical trunk; apex is praemorse; spadices are several on the axils of fallen leaves, to 50 cm long, branched, shortly peduncled; spikes are flexuous or straight, to 30 cm long. Spathes are boat-like and coriaceous. Flowers are unisexual, with both male and female flowers borne in the same inflorescence. Inflorescences  are crowded, much-branched panicles borne below the leaves. Each terminal branch has a few female flowers borne at the base and numerous male flowers extending from there out to the branch tip.  Flowers of both sexes have six tepals and are stalkless, creamy-white, fragrant; male flowers are minute, deciduous,  have six stamens, arrowhead-shaped anthers, rudimentary ovary; female  flowers are larger (1.2–2 cm long), with six small sterile stamens and a  three-celled ovary bearing a  triangular stigma with three points at the  apex. Fruits are fibrous mesocarps, spherical, and contain a single seed. Young fruits are green and gradually turn orange-red with maturity.

Taxonomy of Areca catechu   
Kingdom              :               Plantae
Phylum                 :               Tracheophyta
Class                     :               Liliopsida
Order                    :               Arecales
Family                   :               Arecaceae
Genus                   :               Areca
Species                 :               Areca catechu L.

Synonym of Areca catechu
Areca catechu f. communis Becc.
Areca catechu var. alba Blume
Areca catechu var. batanensis Becc.
Areca catechu var. longicarpa Becc.
Areca catechu var. nigra Giseke
Areca catechu var. silvatica Becc.
Areca cathechu Burm.f., orth. var.
Areca faufel Gaertn., nom. superfl.
Areca himalayana Griff. ex H.Wendl., pro syn.
Areca hortensis Lour., nom. superfl.
Areca macrocarpa Becc.
Areca nigra Giseke ex H.Wendl., pro syn.
Sublimia areca Comm. ex Mart., nom. inval.

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