|Areca catechu – 1897 illustration|
|Areca catechu |
Areca is a genus of about 50 species of palms in the family Arecaceae, found in humid tropical forests from the islands of the Philippines, Malaysia and India, across Southeast Asia to Melanesia. The generic name Areca is derived from a name used locally on the Malabar Coast of India.
The best-known member of the genus is A. catechu, the areca nut palm. Several species of areca nuts, known for their bitter and tangy taste, raw or dried, are routinely used for chewing, especially in combination with the leaves of betel and dried leaves of tobacco. Areca nut is also popularly referred to as betel nut because of its usage for chewing with betel leaves. In Assam, areca nut is also known as tamul in the local dialect.
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