A tall, very slender-trunked tropical palm, betel can be grown indoors as a pot plant while it is young, although it is difficult to find suppliers in the UK. A full grown betelnut tree grows 25m so there will be a limit to how long you can keep one on your window-sill.
The separate male and female flowers develop only on mature trees, so fruits will not be produced here. A full-grown tree develops up to 250 smooth orange fleshy fruits every year.
Hardiness: Betel can only be grown indoors or in a heated greenhouse. Minimum temperature 15°C.
Propagation: From seed. Rub seeds gently with sandpaper and sow 3cm deep in pots of damp compost, enclose in a plastic bag and keep in a warm place (like an airing cuboard) for up to 2 months.
Cultivation: Use a loam-based compost, and move plants into larger pots as they grow. A mulch of pine bark or leafmould on the top of the pot is said to be beneficial. Ideally try to keep a day temperature of 28°C, dropping to 25°C at nights.
Pests: Usually trouble-free.
Plant sources: Only stocked by one nursery, not available by mail order. As the nuts are usually sold dried and skinned ready for use, they are not likely to germinate, although if you ever came across some fresh whole nuts it might be worth a try. Remove the outer pulp and sandpaper the seed coat a little before trying in damp compost as above.
The outer flesh of the fruit can cause stomach upsets.