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Betel Nut Palms

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This row of tall skinny Areca Palm trees (Areca catechu) provides areca nuts. Some islanders chew them for a mildly stimulating narcotic effect, sometimes compared to drinking a cup of coffee. Pieces of the fruit are chewed together with leaves of a pepper plant (betel leaves) and lime (calcium hydroxide). The lime causes copius salivation, which releases the active ingredients. Some of the effects are red-stained mouths, accelerated tooth decay, cancers and red splotches on ground and sidewalks. It is used all across India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, often in traditional medicines.