Betel Leaf Betel Leaf
Wild Pepper, Kadok, Sirih Dudu, Karuk, Karok, Daun Kaduk, Vegetable Pepper, Betel Pepper
Piper sermentosum syn. Chavia sermentosum
A very attractive spice, fast growing, perennial, evergreen to 1 metre, with creeping stem branches, dark green, glossy, heart-shaped leaves to 15cm long. White catkin flowers turn a green/brown when mature.
Propagation is easy by root division or cuttings, preferably taken in spring or summer. Betel leaf requires a rich soil and prefers a semi-shade position. It makes a good under storey plant. Regular feeding and watering will keep it growing very lush. Although betel leaf is considered a tropical to subtropical plant, it will adapt to cold conditions if given a warm spot in winter, and could be grown in a large pot, and shifted to a cosy position in the cold months of the year.
digestive, stimulant, expectorant, carminative, antibacterial
The plant has many traditional medicinal uses. Malaysians use the leaves for headaches, arthritis and joint pain. In Thailand and China the roots are crushed and blended with salt to relieve toothache. In Indonesia leaves are chewed with betel nut, and the masticated juice swallowed for relief from coughs and asthma. A lady rang the farm seeking a betel leaf plant, and shared how it is used in her homeland of Indonesia. She said it is valued as a natural antibiotic, and drunk as a tea daily to benefit health. This tea is also used to keep the body free of unpleasant smells of perspiration and menstrual odour. She said, it is also valued by people (particularly senior citizens) to keep teeth and gums strong and healthy. To make the tea, take 2 cups of water and bring to the boil in a saucepan. Drop in 7 mature size leaves, and simmer until the liquid has evaporated down to approximately one glass. Strain and drink daily.
Betel leaf is a popular spice in south east Asian cooking, with the leaves being used raw and cooked. A traditional way of preparing the leaves is as a wrapping for spiced minced meat and other morsels. In Thailand, these wraps are a favourite snack, using an assortment of fillings, like peanuts, shrimps, shallots with lime and raw ginger. Leaves are also used in a herb and rice salad called ‘nasi kerabu’. Because the leaves are so attractive, they are often used as a base for decorating platters, with foods arranged on top. The white flower spikes develop into seed/fruit that looks a little like a green/brown mulberry when ripe and can be eaten; it is a tasty morsel of sweet jelly-like pulp.