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Betelnut (arecanut)
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What is betelnut?

Betelnut (the fruit of Areca catechu Linn) is a wiry coconut palm grown in many parts of asia as it requires moist soil. It is mainly grown in India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Micronesia. Betelnut is a refreshing, mild stimulant which is chewed casually like gum, inducing a similar effect to an espresso coffee.

According to scientific study, betelnut is also a common medicine. Besides tonifying the stomach, it is also a good medicine for protecting the human teeth. Many old Dai folks have very strong teeth in Xishuangbanna; that’s because they often chew betelnuts. Besides, betelnut can also banish insects, cure tympanites and edema, etc.


Betel chewing is a tradition which dates back thousands of years. The bitter poultice is an acquired taste, and although it's not clear why the people of the Pacific originally began to chew betelnut, the habit has been passed down through the generations and now provides a cultural link to their past.

Chewing betelnut is a hobby of many Dai folks in Xishuangbanna. Almost all aged Dai folks regard it as something enjoyable. Why do the Dai folks like chewing betelnuts? There is a story. Once upon a time, an old couple caught stomachaches because they got angry at their disobedient son and daughter-in-law. One day, when the couple was weaving bamboo baskets under the betelnut tree, a wind blew and some ripe betelnuts dropped down. Feeling parched, they picked up one and put it into their mouths. It tasted cool and sweet with a little bit bitter and. During the night, the old couple both felt comfortable in the stomach. They chewed betelnut successively for days, and their stomachaches got complete well. Ever since then, the Dai folks formed the hobby of chewing betelnuts.

Its structure!

According to the botanical classification, betelnut belongs to the same family as oil palm and talipot palm; however, their outer appearances are quite different. Oil palm and talipot palm are tall and mighty with thin and long leaves, looking like tall men; while the betelnut tree is thin and elegant, looking like a shy girl. Here is another story about betelnut: long, long ago, a Dai youth fell in love with a beautiful girl. The girl got lost and the young man looked for her everywhere. On his tough journey, he encountered a betelnut tree. He went to the betelnut tree to ask his love’s whereabouts. The betelnut tree raised its nose up and gave him coldly a disappointing answer. The young man was quite angry and he cursed the betelnut tree: “You will stand high and never grow thick and sturdy”. Many years have passed; until today, the betelnut tree is still so thin.


In India(the largest consumer of betelnut), the betelnut is cut into small pieces using a special instrument called sarota, and the husk is wrapped in a betel leaf along with lime and may include clove, cardamum, catechu (kattha), etc for extra flavouring. Betel leaf has a fresh, peppery taste, but depending on the variety of areca from which it comes it can be very bitter. Seasoned chewers might mix the betelnut with tobacco. This preperation of betelnut is commonly reffered as Paan is India and is available everywhere.

Betelnut is also available in ready to eat pouches called Pan Masala. It is a mixture of many spices whose primary base is betelnut crushed into very small pieces. Some times Pan Masala also includes a small quantity of tobaco, in this case, the product is called Gutka

Every year we export thousands of tonns of betelnut in India and Pakistan. Newsletter

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Updated on ... November 06, 2003

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