Puga, Gubak, Poogiphalam, Tantusara
In Karnataka, women use the inflorescence to adorn
their hair. A perfume is obtained from the flowers in
Malaysia. The nuts are made into beads and other fancy
articles. Galls, called `mocharas', are a result of the
action of certain insects on the palm, and are used for
tanning. In some regions of the Americas, the arecanut palm
is cultivated as an ornamental plant.
The tree is widely distributed
in coastal regions, from Maharashtra to
| Kerala and Tamil
Nadu.It also grows in the Deccan Plateau, Assam, Meghalaya,
West Bengal, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is also
cultivated in those areas.
Morphology Description (Habit)
It is a tree with an annulate stem. The stem is surrounded
by a crown of pinnate leaves. The leaflets are numerous, the
petioles expanded into a broad, tough, sheath-like growth at
the lower end; the inflorescence is a spathe which is
compressed and glabrous; the spadices are much-branched,
bearing ebracteate male and female flowers. The male flowers
are small and numerous; the female flowers are solitary or
in groups of two or three and much larger than the male;
bisexual flowers have also been recorded; the fruits are
ovoid or oblong, smooth and orange or scarlet when fully
ripe. They are single-seeded and the endosperm or
seed-kernel, popularly called the "arecanut", is greyish
brown and ruminate, with reddish brown lines.
The polyphenols of ripe arecanut contain predominantly
polymerized leucocyanidins besides minor amounts of (+)-cetechin,
leucopelargonidin and leucocyanidin. The polyphenols of
arecanut are mainly flavonoids, and their concentration
decreases with the maturity of the nut1 Arecanut
contains several alkaloids belonging to the pyridine group.
The most important of them physiologically is arecoline.
Other alkaloids present are arecaidine, arecolidine,
guvacine, guvacoline, isoguvacine, norarecaidine and
The effects of polyphenolics obtained from fresh, unripe
areca nuts were studied on rat uteri under various hormonal
influences and compared with the effects obtained with
alkaloidal fractions. The ethyl acetate fraction of the
aqueous extract was a stimulant of low degree on all uteri
but its spasmogenic activity was comparatively more on uteri
treated with progesterone3. The alcoholic extract
of the nuts exerted a distinct oxytocic activity on isolated
rat uterus at a dose of 100mcg4. The aqueous
extracts of the nuts inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus
aureus and Trichophyton rubrum, in vitro, while the
alcoholic extract also inhibited the growth of Escherichia
coli, Candida albicans, and C. tropicalis5.
Four nitroso compounds, N-nitrosoguvacoline, N-nitrosoguvacine,
3-(N-nitrosomethylamino) propionaldehyde and
3-(N-nitrosomethylamino) propionitrile, have been isolated
from the aqueous extract of the betel nuts. They have been
found cytotoxic and genotoxic to human buccal epithelial
cells and also produced pancreatic, lung, nasal and liver
tumours in rats6.
The dried nuts are said to sweeten the breath, strengthen
the gums, and produce a stimulant and exhilarant effect on
the system. Arecanut has been reported to be a good source
of fluoride, when chewed. The non-alkaloid fractions of
arecanuts are reported to possess anti-microbial properties.
- Mathew, J Fd Sci Technol, 1971, 8, 140; Govindarajan &
Mathew, Phytochemistry, 1963, 2, 321; Mathew &
Govindarajan, ibid, 1964, 3, 657; Mathew et. al., ibid,
1969, 8, 1543.
- Marion in Manske & Holmes, I, 171; Willaman &
Schubert, Tech Bull, U S Dep Agric, No. 1234, 1961, 158;
Henry, 8; Chang & DeVol, Taiwania, 1973, 18, 123.
- Lalithakumari et. al., Ind. J. Pharm., 1964, 26, 268.
- Garg, S.K. and Garg, G.P., Bull. P.G.I. Chandigarh,
1970, 4, 162.
- Lalithakumari, H. et. al., Ind. J. Exptl. Biol., 1965,
- Chem Abstr, 1989, 110, 52690; 1989, 111, 210394; 1991,
115, 225914, 225952.