Piper betel (maghai paan): Multi utility herb loved in India as a mouth freshener

Piper betel (maghai paan): Multi utility herb loved in India as a mouth freshener
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Image Source: Augustus Binu/ www.dreamsparrow.net/ facebook / CC BY-SA (Image Cropped)

It is a creeper widely grown in India. The leaves are heart shaped and waxy. The leaves are said to have medicinal properties. It is also used in culinary. A famous dessert called the ‘paan’ is nothing but the betel leaves chewed with betel nuts. It acts as a moth freshener. The leaves are also used in religious occasions.

Quick Details of Piper betel

Other Common NamesBetel leaf, paan leaf, maghai paan
TypeOutdoor plant
MaintenanceMedium
FloweringLate spring
LightPartial sun light
WaterRegular watering
TemperatureHot and humid conditions
SoilAny well-drained potting soil
FertilizerAny house plant fertilizer
HabitatIndia
ToxicityNo
Common DiseasesMostly resistant to diseases
Scientific namePiper betle

Piper betel Buying Instructions

  • Buy plant with lots of bushy leaves.
  • Ensure you have proper environment at home such as terrace with shade or balcony with partial sunlight or option for green house.
  • Leaves should not be dry and stem should be green.
  • Do not re-pot the plant immediately after bringing it from nursery. Wait for at least 8-10 days for re-potting .

Overview of Piper betel

They are evergreen perennial plants belonging to the piperaceae family. They are vines. The leaves are heart shaped, glossy and aromatic. The leaves are traditionally offered to the elders as a mark of respect and during any auspicious beginning like wedding.

Special features: The plants have many medicinal uses. It also plays an important part in the Indian culture. The leaves are rich in calcium, vitamin c, carotene, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin

Usage and Advantage of Piper betel

  • It is used in making the dessert ‘paan’
  • The compounds present in the leaf can reduce blood sugar.
  • The consumption of leaves can boost metabolism.
  • Used in curing wounds.
  • The cooling property of the plants help relieve headache when applied externally.
  • Betel leaves contains Hydroxychavicol which is used in many traditional medicines.

General Care for Piper betel

Barouj – Traditional way of growing Piper betel in Bangladesh (Image source – Balaji / CC BY-SA) – Image Cropped

Soil: It prefers slightly acidic, sandy, loamy and damp soil. The soil should not be heavy or allow water to be clogged. It should be well drained. Any potting mixture can be used for the growth of the plant

Watering: The plants should be watered regularly. However, care should be taken to not over-water the plants.

Light: They require partial shade. The plants become dormant during winter and can lose leaves.

Pruning: The plants should be pruned regularly once it reaches the height of 2 meters. Pruning ensures branching of the plant and production of healthy tender leaves.

Fertilizer: Any house plant fertilizer can be used in 8 weeks. The plants can be fed with compost or any nitrogen rich fertilizer ones or twice a year.

Pests and other problems for Piper betel

The plant is mostly prone to diseases like rot that are caused due to over watering or due to the presence of excess moisture in the soil or on the surface of leaves. This can be prevented by reducing the moisture and providing enough aeration and light.

The plants are also prone to pest attacks. Some of the common pests include aphids and red mites. This can be controlled by either spraying soap solution or hose spraying water.

Leaf blight: This causes the formation of black or brown oily patches on the leaves. The leaves wilt and fall. This can be controlled by pinching off the infected leaf or stem.

Propagation of Piper betel

The plant can be propagated through cutting. Cut 5-6-inch-long stem, the cut should be made at 45 degrees just below the leaf node. The leaves are removed from the bottom of the stem cutting and the cutting was placed in a vessel containing water. The water can be changed every alternate day to prevent any infection. The cutting can be transplanted to the soil ones the roots are formed.

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