Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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The dried, ripe seed of the palm tree Areca catechu, a native of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Areca catechu [family Arecaceae (Palmae)] attains a height of 30–50 ft (9–15 m). Betel nuts (see illustration), when broken open, have a faint odor and a somewhat acrid taste. They are slightly larger in size than a chestnut. Local inhabitants chew the betel nuts together with the leaves of the betel pepper, Piper betle (Piperaceae) and lime. The mixture discolors and eventually destroys the teeth. Frequently, habitual chewers of the nut are toothless by the age of 25. The seeds contain a narcotic that produces some stimulation and a sense of well-being. See also: Arecales; Narcotic; Nut crop culture; Seed
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