Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The betel-nut palm

The 'Pinang' tree rises above all the other fruit trees and oil palm trees
Location : Zone F

Areca catechu - in flowers and fruits
 Easily one of the tallest trees in the park is the 'Pinang' tree (Areca catechu) or sometimes called the betel-nut palm. The tree is planted for the fruits which have nut-like seeds.  In many cultures throughout the world (India, China and South-east Asia) betel nut chewing is a favourite pastime and such act is associated with many ceremonial functions in these countries. Below is the fruit cut in cross-section and in vertical section to show the nut clearly.  It is the nut that is chewed with leaves of the Piper betel (Sirih in Malay) and other ingredients that are popularly consumed among the elder folks nowadays in Sarawak especially the Malays and other native races here.
The endosperm which is the nut removed of its fibrous covering (as shown at bottom left in the above picture) is sliced and combined with the leaves of Piper betel ( Sirih in Malay) together with lime and other ingredients and made into a wad for chewing.  The nut is said to be strongly astringent and contains up to 25% of catehol tannins which provides some protection against tooth decay when the nut grounds down the teeth.

The inflorescence begins to develop inside the leaf sheath and grows fully once the leaf sheath is shed (seen above the group of fruits above). The inflorescence are sometimes used in ceremonial functions in Sarawak.  Ripe fruits become yellowish to orange in colour and unripe ones are green.

No comments:

Post a Comment