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Useful Tropical Plants

Piper betle

L.

Piperaceae

+ Synonyms

Chavica auriculata Miq.

Chavica betle (L.) Miq.

Chavica chuvya Miq.

Chavica densa Miq.

Chavica siriboa (L.) Miq.

Piper malamiris L.

Piper pinguispicum C.DC. & Koord.

Piper siriboa L.

Common Name: Betel Pepper

Piper betle
Cultivated plant
Photograph by: Yosri
GNU Free Documentation License
Piper betle Piper betle Piper betle Piper betle Piper betle Piper betle

General Information

Betel pepper is an evergreen climbing shrub producing woody stems 5 - 20 metres long. The stems produce adventitious roots, with which they can adhere to other plants etc for support[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The plant was probably originally native to Malaysia, but it was taken into cultivation more than 2,500 years ago and is no longer known in the wild. It is commonly used as part of a masticatory mix which also involves the Betel palm (Areca spp.) and also has a range of medicinal uses.

Known Hazards

Chewing betel quids can lead to cancers in the mouth and on the tongue[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Southeast Asia - probably originally from Malaysia.

Habitat

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Properties

Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Climber
Height5.00 m
Growth RateFast
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

Betel pepper is a plant of lowland tropical areas , usually at elevations below 900 metres[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It prefers growing in areas where the mean annual temperature falls within the range 22 - 27°c, but can tolerate 17 - 31°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It thrives under per-humid forest conditions with high relative humidity and ample supply of soil moisture. It flourishes in areas with a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,250 - 4,750mm[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Prefers a position in shade and also needs protection from the wind[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It prefers a deep, well-drained, friable loamy and clayey soil, rich in organic matter and with a pH of about 7 - 7.5[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 5.6, but tolerates 4.3 - 6.8[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Young plants grow quickly and, under favourable conditions, can commence being harvested when only 18 months old[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Grown under favourable conditions, they usually have larger and less pungent leaves[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Each vine is picked 3 - 4 (occasionally 5) times a year[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Leaves are traditionally plucked early in the morning by cutting the petiole with a sharpened steel thumbnail. They should be kept out of the sun to preserve their aroma. Other factors determining chewing quality are cultivar, leaf position and plant age. The best leaves are large, yellow and grow on the upper lateral branches. In Malaysia leaves on the lower lateral branches are regarded as medicinal and are used in preparations applied on ulcers and wounds[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Annual yields are estimated at 6 - 10 tonnes per hectare, each vine yields 40 - 50 leaves per year[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
When a vine becomes 2 metres long, it produces smaller and poorer quality leaves, so must be rejuvenated by cutting back[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Regular rejuvenation is achieved by taking the vines off their supports and burying the lower part in the soil. New roots form and the vigorous new sprouts are trained along supports[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The life of a plantation may vary considerably: from 3 - 4 years in temporary gardens to 30 - 50 years in permanent ones[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Although only known from cultivation, betel pepper is a very variable species[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Numerous cultivars exist with leaves differing in size, shape and colour, and in softness, pungency, aroma and bleaching response[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. In Indonesia and Malaysia some cultivars have a clove-like flavour. In India 5 cultivars are known, differing in morphology and essential-oil composition[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Closely related species, which are also only known from cultivation, are Piper siriboa and Piper chuvya[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Betel pepper needs support for its growth, which may be provided by trees, bamboo, wooden poles or concrete pillars[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
A dioecious species - both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.

Edible Uses

A mixture of betel leaves and other ingredients is used as a masticatory, which acts as a gentle stimulant and is taken after meals to sweeten the breath. The ingredients of the betel mixture (quid) can vary widely per country or region. The three basic ingredients are often the betel leaf, the seed ('nut') from the areca palm (Areca catechu L.) and lime, produced by burning seashells or slabs of limestone. In the Moluccas and certain regions of Papua New Guinea, the betel leaf is replaced by the inflorescence of Piper siriboa. Other possible ingredients include gambier (Uncaria gambir), tobacco, palm sugar and various spices, such as cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) and clove (Syzygium aromaticum). The various mixtures provide a wide range of different tastes. Chewing the quid discolours teeth and stains saliva, mouth and lips red. It results in copious salivation, so users have to spit frequently[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Chewing betel quids can lead to cancers in the mouth and on the tongue[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

Medicinal

The leaves, roots and seeds are all used for medicinal purposes in Asia[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The leaves are said to be anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, expectorant, laxative, sialagogue, stimulant, stomachic and tonic[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Leaf preparations and the leaf sap are applied to wounds, ulcers, boils and bruises. Heated leaves are applied as a poultice on the chest against cough and asthma, on the breasts to stop milk secretion, and on the abdomen to relieve constipation[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The leaves are also used to treat nosebleed, ulcerated noses, gums and mucous membranes while the extract from the leaves is applied for wounds in the ears and as an infusion for the eye[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. A decoction of the leaves is used to bathe a woman after childbirth, or is drunk to lessen an unpleasant body odour[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The essential oil obtained from the leaves is antibacterial and antifungal[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It has shown anthelmintic activity against tapeworms and hookworms[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
] It has been used to treat affections of the mucous membrane of nose, throat and respiratory organs[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is often intercropped with coconut palm and areca palm[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

A yellowish-brown essential obtained from the leaves has an aromatic odour resembling that of creosote and tea, and a burning sharp flavour[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Important constituents are the phenols eugenol, chavicol, methyl chavicol (estragol) and chavibetol (betelphenol; an isomer of eugenol). However, the composition of the essential oil varies strongly per cultivar[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Leaves from the upper parts of the plant are said to contain more essential oil than those from the lower parts[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Cuttings 30 - 45cm long, taken from the tips of vertical shoots[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Cuttings usually have 3 - 5 nodes and are planted with the lowest 2 nodes buried in the soil. The cuttings are planted in nurseries or, more commonly, directly in the field, where they are planted close together in pits or long mounds. When the cuttings begin to sprout and creep along, they are tied to the support[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]

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