: a climbing pepper (Piper betle) of southeastern Asia whose leaves are chewed together with betel nut and mineral lime as a stimulant masticatory
The betel nut, seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu)—Wayne Lukas–Group IVThe National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers
Either of two different plants that are widely used in combination for chewing purposes in southern Asia and the East Indies. The betel nut is the seed of the areca, or betel, palm (Areca catechu), family Palmae; the betel leaf is from the betel pepper, or pan plant (Piper betle), family Piperaceae. For chewing, a small piece of the areca palm's fruit is wrapped in a leaf of the betel pepper, along with a pellet of lime to cause salivation and release the stimulating alkaloids. Chewing results in a heavy flow of brick-red saliva, which may temporarily dye the mouth, lips, and gums orange-brown. Betel nuts yield an alkaloid that veterinarians use as a worming agent.