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Piper betle L.

Piper betle L.




Chavica betle (L.) Miquel, Piper pinguispicum C.DC. & Koord.

Vernacular Names


Sirih (Malay).


Betel pepper, betelvine.


Sirih (Indonesian), suruh (Javanese), seureuh (Sundanese).

Papua New Guinea



Ikmo (Tagalog), buyo (Bikol), mamon (Bisaya).






Phlu (General).


Tr[aat]u, tr[aat]u kh[oo]ng.



Geographical Distributions

Piper betle is native to central and eastern Malesia and was taken into cultivation more than 2500 years ago throughout Malesia and tropical Asia. It reached Madagascar and East Africa much later and was also introduced into the West Indies. Written Chinese sources from the period of the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907) described Southeast Asia as a region of betel users. Betel chewing was widespread in South India and South China when the first Europeans arrived in the 15th century.


Piper betle is a dioecious, perennial, woody, smooth climber up to 5-20 m long. The stem is swollen at the nodes. Horizontal branches grow with adventitious roots to climb but the vertical branches are generative and without roots.

The leaves are arranged alternately, coriaceous and rather variable. The petiole is 1-2.5 cm long. The blade is ovate to ovate oblong, measuring 5-20 cm x 2-11 cm, cordate at base, rounded or oblique, with entire margin, acuminate at apex, with 2-3 pairs of curved veins from the base and one pair from the midrib which is 1-3 cm above the base. It is shiny bright green.

The inflorescence is cylindrical while the spike is pendulous. The peduncle is 1-6 cm long. The male spike is up to 12 cm long and crowded with small flowers with 2 stamens while the female spike is up to 5 cm long and crowded with 3-5 stigmas of female flowers.

The fruit is a fleshy drupe and measures up to 5 cm x 1.5 cm. The suborbicular seed is 3-5 mm in diametre.

Ecology / Cultivation

Piper betle thrives under per-humid forest conditions with high relative humidity and supply of soil moisture. It flourishes in areas with 2250-4750 mm annual rainfall and is cultivated at altitudes up to 900 m. It prefers shade and needs protection from wind. It prefers deep, well-drained, friable loamy and clayey soils, rich in organic matter and with a pH of about 7-7.5.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1) Safety

  2) Cultivation


1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 16: Stimulants.

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