Plant Size : 20Cm - 30Cm
Piper betle is an evergreen climbing shrub producing woody stems 5 - 20 metres long. The stems produce adventitious roots, with which they can adhere to other plants etc for support
The plant was probably originally native to Malaysia, but it was taken into cultivation more than 2,500 years ago and is no longer known in the wild. It is commonly used as part of a masticatory mix which also involves the Betel palm (Areca spp.) and also has a range of medicinal 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.
Chewing betel quids can lead to cancers in the mouth and on the tongue.
The leaves, roots and seeds are all used for medicinal purposes in Asia.The leaves are said to be anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, expectorant, laxative, sialagogue, stimulant, stomachic and tonic.
Leaf preparations and the leaf sap are applied to wounds, ulcers, boils and bruises. Heated leaves are applied as a poultice on the chest against cough and asthma, on the breasts to stop milk secretion, and on the abdomen to relieve constipation
The leaves are also 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
A decoction of the leaves is used to bathe a woman after childbirth, or is drunk to lessen an unpleasant body odour
The essential oil obtained from the leaves is antibacterial and antifungal. It has shown anthelmintic activity against tapeworms and hookworms. It has been used to treat affections of the mucous membrane of nose, throat and respiratory organs.
The plant is often intercropped with coconut palm and areca palm.
A yellowish-brown essential obtained from the leaves has an aromatic odour resembling that of creosote and tea, and a burning sharp flavour. 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 strongly per cultivar. Leaves from the upper parts of the plant are said to contain more essential oil than those from the lower parts.
Cuttings 30 - 45cm long, taken from the tips of vertical shoots. Cuttings usually have 3 - 5 nodes and are planted with the lowest 2 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.