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Piper betle - L.

Common Name Betel
Family Piperaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Chewing betel quids can lead to cancers in the mouth and on the tongue [254].
Habitats Humid tropical climates. Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Southeast Asia - probably originally from Malaysia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Piper betle Betel

Piper betle Betel


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Betel (Piper betle) is a perennial climber of the family Piperaceae, which includes Black pepper (Piper nigrum) and kava kava (Piper methysticum). Not to be confused with Betel leaf (Piper sarmentosum), a completely different plant with different uses to Piper betle.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Piper betle is an evergreen Perennial Climber growing to 5 m (16ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Artanthe hexagyna Miq. Betela mastica Raf. Chavica auriculata Miq. Chavica betle (L.) Miq. Chavica chuvya Miq. Chavica densa Miq. Chavica siriboa (L.) Miq. P. betel Blanco [Spelling variant]. P. malamiris L. P. pinguispicum C.DC. & Koord. P. rubroglandulosum Chaveer. & Mokkamul. P. siriboa L. Piperi betlum (L.) St.-Lag.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed
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 ]. Chewing betel quids can lead to cancers in the mouth and on the tongue [254 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antiasthmatic  Antibacterial  Antifungal  Antihalitosis  Antiseptic  Antitussive  Aphrodisiac  
Astringent  Carminative  Expectorant  Galactofuge  Laxative  Poultice  Sialagogue  
Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic

The leaves, roots and seeds are all used for medicinal purposes in Asia [310 ]. The leaves are anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, expectorant, galactofuge, laxative, sialagogue, stimulant, stomachic and tonic [254, 283, 310 ]. Leaf preparations and the leaf sap are applied to wounds, ulcers, boils and bruises. Heated leaves are used as a poultice on the chest against cough and asthma, on the breasts to stop milk secretion, and on the abdomen to relieve constipation [283, 310 ]. The leaves are 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 ]. A decoction of the leaves is used for bathing a woman after childbirth or is drunk to lessen an unpleasant body odour [310 ]. The essential oil obtained from the leaves is antibacterial and antifungal [310 ]. It has shown anthelmintic activity against tapeworms and hookworms [310 ]. It has been used to treat affections of the mucous membrane of the nose, throat and respiratory organs [310 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: The plant is intercropped with coconut palm and areca palm [310 ]. Other Uses: The primary use of betel leaf is a wrapper for chewing areca nut or tobacco, where it is mainly used to add flavour. A yellowish-brown essential obtained from the leaves has an aromatic odour resembling creosote and tea and a burning, sharp flavour [310 ]. 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 enormously per cultivar [254, 310 ]. Leaves from the upper parts of the plant contain more essential oil than those from the lower parts [310 ]. In India and Sri Lanka, a bundle of betel leaves is offered as a mark of respect and auspicious beginnings in traditional Indian culture. Occasions include greeting elders at wedding ceremonies, celebrating the New Year, and providing payment to physicians and astrologers.

Special Uses

Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Betel pepper is a plant of lowland tropical areas, usually at elevations below 900 metres [310 ]. It prefers growing in areas where the mean annual temperature falls within 22 - 27°c but can tolerate 17 - 31°c [418 ]. It thrives under per-humid forest conditions with high relative humidity and an ample supply of soil moisture. It flourishes in areas with a mean annual rainfall of 2,250 - 4,750mm[310 ]. It prefers a position in the shade and also needs protection from the wind [310 ]. 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 ]. It prefers a pH in the range 5 - 5.6 but tolerates 4.3 - 6.8 [418 ]. Waterlogged, saline and alkali soils ( clay soils with high pH (> 8.5), a poor soil structure and a low infiltration capacity.) are unsuitable for its cultivation. Young plants grow quickly and, under favourable conditions, can commence being harvested when only 18 months old [310 ]. Grown under suitable conditions, they usually have larger and less pungent leaves [310 ]. Each vine is picked 3 - 4 (occasionally 5) times a year [310 ]. 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 ]. Annual yields are estimated at 6 - 10 tonnes per hectare; each vine yields 40 - 50 leaves per year [310 ]. When a vine becomes 2 metres long, it produces smaller and poorer quality leaves, so it must be rejuvenated by cutting back [310 ]. Regular rejuvenation is achieved by taking the vines off their supports and burying the lower part of the soil. New roots form and the vigorous new sprouts are trained along supports [310 ]. The life of a plantation may vary considerably: from 3 - 4 years in temporary gardens to 30 - 50 years in permanent ones [310 ]. Although only known from cultivation, betel pepper is a very variable species [310 ]. Numerous cultivars exist with leaves differing in size, shape and colour, softness, pungency, aroma and bleaching response [310 ]. In Indonesia and Malaysia, some cultivars have a clove-like flavour. In India, five cultivars are known, differing in morphology and essential-oil composition[310 ]. Closely related species, which are also only known from cultivation, are Piper siriboa and Piper chuvya [310 ]. Betel pepper needs support for its growth, which may be provided by trees, bamboo, wooden poles or concrete pillars [310 ]. A dioecious species - both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed. Cuttings 30 - 45cm long, taken from the tips of vertical shoots[310 ]. Cuttings usually have 3 - 5 nodes and are planted with the lowest two 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 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Betel, Betel pepper, Betelvine, Betel Vine, Akabui, Amasi katu, Gabuuy, Hirata, Igisi, Kata, Kebui, Kubaha, Kun, Kun-ywet-pin,Kura, Lou ye, Loupita, Manavasa, Mithi, Nagavalli, Nagurvel, Nup, Ofa, Ofa, Paan, Pan, Pan pata, Panpatta, Pathi, Pita, Plobo, Pupulu, Sanga, Sarapa, Sirih, Sla-tympew, Tamalapaku, Tambula, Tambuli, Trau khong, Vettila, Vettilai, Videchapana, Vilayadele, Vuvulu [1-4]. Betelpfeffer (German), betelpeppar (Swedish), bétel (French),

Africa, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Cuba, East Africa, East Timor, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Himalayas, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Micronesia, Myanmar, Northeastern India, Pacific, Palau, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA, Vietnam, West Africa, Yap [1-4].

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Not Listed.

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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