Stems solitary, erect, to 20 m tall, 10-20 cm in diam., gray with conspicuous nodes. Leaf sheaths closed and forming green, slightly swollen crownshafts to 1 m; petioles no more than 5 cm; rachis recurved, to 2 m; pinnae 20-30 per side of rachis, regularly and closely arranged, stiffly erect; middle pinnae 30-60 cm, 3-7 cm wide at mid-point. Inflorescences infrafoliar, branched to 3 orders, erect; rachillae many, flexuose, yellowish green, to 25 cm; male flowers solitary, alternate and distichous on rachillae; stamens 6; female flowers at bases of rachillae only, larger than male flowers. Fruits yellow, orange, or red, ovoid, to 8 × 6 cm.
Cultivated and commonly seen around houses. Guangxi, Hainan, Taiwan, Yunnan [origin probably C Malesia; widely cultivated throughout tropical Asia].
Areca catechu is an important cultivated species. The sliced seed (betel nut) is chewed as a mild narcotic. The plant also has great ornamental value and many other minor uses.
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