Monday, February 22, 2010

THE ARECA NUT TREE (POKOK PINANG SIRIH)

Do you have areca nut trees (pokok pinang) in the area where you live? Or in your own garden? I am referring to the variety that is called the ‘betel nut palm’ or pokok pinang sirih (PPS). This is the only areca tree whose fruit (areca nut) is used in betel chewing (makan sirih).




(1) Betel (sirih) plant and areca nut trees.

By the way, do you like areca nut trees? I have 6 such trees in my compound.


Five of them are right in the front part of my garden. These trees are about 8 years old, and 8 meters high. Everybody in the family is supposed to own one tree each - Temuk, wife + the 3 children.






(2) A row of five areca nut trees in my compound.


But, I think I’m the only one who can claim to have 'blood ties' with these 5 'arecas'! I’m the one who grew these trees, and looked after them until they began fruiting. And I'm still the care taker, until today. All my children are no longer staying with me now, conveniently forgetting these lovely plants that they are supposed to own and nurture!


The 6th areca tree adorning our garden - the youngest, healthiest and already fruiting too, is located close to our neighbour’s retaining wall. This particular tree embarrasses me at times, because it likes to shed off its old frond into my neighbour's compound. At times I would notice the frond lying on the ground, and I would quickly and quietly use my rake to fish it out. But, sometimes, my neighbour snatches it away before I even realize it. Malulah! But I also collect his palm fronds that fly into my area.
(3) My youngest areca nut tree. It’s safely guarded by a bunch of two different kinds of palm trees. Can you recognize them?


It was unfortunate that I had to chop down one recently (otherwise I’d have 7 altogether) because its fronds had been bothering our TV reception.



(4) Parts of the areca nut tree cut down recently.


Why did I grow the areca nut trees in my compound?


It's just because I wanted to have some ‘traditional’ trees around me, those that people in the past used to plant within the compound of their kings' palaces, and those that my kampung people used to grow around their houses, as ornaments, and for certain pragmatic reasons.



By the way, I also have other kinds of palm trees growing in my house compound (pics below).








(5) Other kinds of plam trees that I grow. Do you know their names?

And my front neighbour too grows the areca trees around his house (pic below). One of them is the pretty and expensive bottle palm.


(6) My neighbour's palm trees. Which one is the bottle palm? Can you recognize two other types of palm trees here?


Now, a bit about 'life with the areca nut trees', in those days .....


The areca nut trees that I now have in my compound are a constant reminder of the good old days and sweet village life that I had gone through, some 40 years or so ago. The areca nut trees, then, were a significant part of our life, although I must admit, we were highly dependent on coconuts for our livelihood.

I can still remember how my late mother haphazardly planted the areca palm seedlings on our tiny coconut land. That was not done to give a face-lift to the area! The trees were grown for practical reasons. Mature trees were felled when necessary, and new seedlings would be planted in their place.


We’d use the areca tree stem (batang pinang) for making planks for the kitchen washing area. The stem could also be split into much smaller pieces of 'rods' (mengkawan). The mengkawan, normally about 1.5 meters long, was used as the main 'frame' or ‘bone’ for making the nipah thatch (atap nipah). Along the 'bone', nipah palm leaves would be ‘folded’, covering the entire length of the 'bone' itself, and then 'sewn', using finely split bemban skin.

The areca trees also provided us with some additional pocket money. And some fun time too!
We normally processed the ripe areca fruits by splitting them into two halves. The kernels were then taken out. The kernels of some of the fruits could easily be separated from their husk. We called such category of areca fruits pinang lekang. Some of them were just the opposite (pinang tak lekang) - more effort would be required to separate their kernels from the husks.

Areca fruits which had become too ripe and their husk too dry, could produce rotting kernels. These kernels could still be salvaged by removing the rotten parts found in them. The kernels were let to dry in the sun. Dried kernels were sold to the local Chinese shopkeepers for about 30 cents a 'kati' (about 600 gm).
























(7) Split areca fruits, pinang tak lekang, pinang lekang, and over-ripe areca fruits with fungus infecting the kernels.



The Indians in Malaysia used to add dried thinly sliced young areca nut (pinang muda kering) to their betel leaves before chewing them. And they still do the same today. I don't remember handling young areca fruits for making pinang muda kering in those days.














(8) Pinang muda kering and the areca fruits.



I also remember using a whole areca kernel for making a smoking pipe head. I would make a hole around the middle section of the kernel. This was supposed to be the area where I'd insert tobacco, normally stolen from my father's 'smoking basket'. At the side of the kernel, a smaller hole would be made through which a tiny bamboo would be inserted, functioning as the 'smoke cylinder' as well as the pipe holder.











(9) The areca fruit husk and a whole areca kernel.


Why did I say that the areca nut trees also gave us some fun time in those days? Here's why.
To celebrate the hari raya in those days, I'd make cannons out of the stem of areca nut trees (meriam batang pinang). These cannons were to be used solely for the hari raya festival. We used 'carbide' to fire these cannons. It was really fun! Unfortunately I can't show you any picture of the cannons here.


But at least you can see in the pictures below how happy my grandaughter was, when recently she had the chance of playing with a sampan tarik (pulled canoe), which was actually an old frond falling off from one of our areca nut trees. Such an old and dry frond is called 'upih' in Malay. Upih is still used today as a special wrapper for dodol, a kind of glutinous rice 'custard' that is very popular among the Malays. .

Can you see my excited grandaughter refuelling her canoe, calling her grandpa Temuk to pull the canoe for her (!), and pulling the canoe herself to transport grandpa's sandals to who knows where? Her excitement reminded me the great moments that my friends and I used to have, playing the 'pulled canoe' around the village which seemed borderless to us.





















(10) A new upih and sampan tarik in action!


May I end this posting with a verse of Malay pantun .......

Sayang meranti pinang sebatang
Lebar upihnya jatuh ke mana
Orang dinanti tak kunjung datang
Khabarkan siapa, kubawa ke sana!

30 comments:

Kak Nora said...

Salam Temuk,
Very informative 'story'about the 'pinang'tree and creative ideas on what can be done with the 'parts'.When I was little, I remember 'acting' as an old man with 'goatee' from the dried husks of the nuts. Yes, we do have 2 but decorative pinang trees in one corner of the 'laman'. Temuk,you can 'sell' your idea on the areca nut trees to National Geograpic Channel lah.

Beli pantun, gurau-gurau, okey:

Pokok pinang tanam berlima,
Buahnya banyak alang kepalang.
Ku tunggu-tunggu sudah lah lama
Mana tuan, mana menghilang?

Temuk said...

Salam Hjh
Terima kasih banyak. Cerita pinang memang seronok. Apa lagi cerita 'pinang orang'! Hehehe. Pengsan National Geographic kot saya kontak depa, dgn gambar2 yg resolusinya begitu rupa & kepukanglintangannya. Tak pa lah, syok sendiri, kan? Ni 'pantun prosa' jawapan: 'Hilang tidak, di sinilah terconggok; Hendak pergi belum dijemput'. Have a nice day!

ahmad humairi said...

Mata memandang saujana lautan,
Beralun ombak mencari teman,
Indah sungguh lamanmu tuan,
Taman Firdausi, syurga idaman.

.....syok sendiri..
tapi orang lain pun syok jugak.
Boleh jadi sumber inspirasi.
Ceria selalu..

Temuk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aida Ali said...

Memang cantik rumah dan perkarangan yang ditanam pokok-pokok pinang ni.

Temuk said...

Cikgu Aida
Terima kasih. Pinang, jangan tak pinang. Lepas tu fikirlah pepohon & tanaman yg lain. Salam bahagia.

AUR said...

Salam Pakcik,

Pokok pinang pakcik saya tak berapa minat..tapi saya sgt minat dgn foto2 buah pinang atas daun sirih tu...Izinkan hamba meng'copy-paste' foto tersebut.Nak buat subjek lukisan la rasanya...Itu pun andainya 'penunggu pohon pinang' izin kan laa...hehehe..jgn marah...hehehe...

Temuk said...

Semoga ceria Cikgu Humairi,
Terima kasih. Laman sekangkang semut saja. Itulah arena meneteskan keringat, sambil melayan apa yg diminat. Itulah juga terapi hati, itulah juga pengasuh budi. Memadailah mengisi ruang persaraan, selari kemampuan juga kesempatan. Salam bahagia.

Temuk said...

Salam Aur
Semoga bisnes baik. Tak ada masalah nak guna gambar-gambar saya. Silakan. Penunggu pinang kata, kena beritahu, asal Perak sebelah mana? Selamat maju jaya.

AUR said...

Terimakasih Penunggu Pinang...hehehe...Saya orang Taiping Pakcik..kat Kemunting..Kg jana Baru..

Temuk said...

AUR
Terima kasih. Pak Cik pernah masuk ke Kemunting +- 5 tahun dulu, cari kawan lama sesekolah kat Teluk Anson (Tk Intan). Pak Cik orang sebelah Bg Datoh. Banyak 'nyor' kat sana, tapi depa dah pandai-pandai sendiri 'convert' ke kelapa sawit sebab 'boleh le beduit sikit'!

al-lavendari said...

Sayang meranti pinang sebatang
Lebar upihnya jatuh ke mana
Orang di nanti kini dah datang
Macam pinang di belah dua !

Lebar upihnya jatuh ke mana
Bawa ke mari di waktu malam
Sungguh pinang banyak gunanya
Hanya jauhari mengenal manikam !

Temuk said...

Aduhai al-lavendari

Sayang meranti pinang sebatang
Lebar upihnya jatuh ke mana
Ingat merajuk rupanya datang
Hilanglah rindu sekian lama.

Lebar upihnya jatuh ke mana
Bawa ke mari di waktu malam
Kisah pinang seorang dara
Memberi rezeki pada mak andam!

DrSam said...

Salam Temuk. Nice write up on the plant (Areca) and its diversity. This reminded me also of my younger day. My late grandmother chew sireh and she had many specialised 'tempayan' to store this areca nuts for her future use. This tempayan became my favorite spots those days to fish out abundace of mosquito larvae to feed my fighting fish.

Alfian_Troxion said...

hehe. tak tau pulak kitorang pon ada 'hak-milik' kat pokok2 tu :P takpe, nanti balik kitorang jaga :D

Nanti maybe nak ambik sikit gambar Hana masuk my blog? :) hehe. tq Bah...

Temuk said...

Salam DrSam
It's nice to know that my entry has brought back old memories of your late grandma & her sirih chewing practice. Yg seronok tu kita kata nenek-nenek kita tu 'makan sirih', tapi hakikatnya mereka hanya kunyah & luahkan! Some had their special tin rokok lama to keep the product of their kunyahan. Tu lah dulu. Nenek sekarang pula, chewing gum?

Temuk said...

Pyan
I've told that particular plant that's supposed to be yours. Dia pun terkejut, tapi sabar menanti. Looking forward to reading your new entry. Take care.

WELAS ASIH said...

Sungguh pantun yang indah.
Bapak rajin sekali menulis.
Semoga Bapak sekeluarga selalu berbahagia.

Temuk said...

Assalamu'alaikum wrbkt
Yth Bapak Welas Asih
Maturnuwun. Teruja sekali saya dengan komen bapak, karena telah begitu lama enggak ketemu di alam siber ini. Yang ditulis ya enggak apa-apa kok, sakedar mengisi masa & mencari kenalan baru. Semoga ada cerita-cerita baru bapak nanti. Semoga bapak sefamili juga berbahagia selalu.

Kak Ezza@makcik Blogger said...

Pak Temuk

Dulu masa saya masih muda dn baru beranak 4...saya selalu terpandang kan pokok ni...daun hijau,,lebat dan cantik masa tu belum ada buah nya lagi...saya tanya arwah mak saya,,,pokok apa tu mak..cantik la mak...mak saya dok geleng2 kepala...apa lah ko ni Zah...pokok pinang pun ko tak kenal....dah tua bangka tak roti roti lagi....
Malu nya saya ni....mana lah nak tau...duduk pun di KL...hahahah

Temuk said...

Salam bahagia Ezza
Hehehe. Sekarang ni tentu Ezza dah kenal sangat kat pokok pinang, kan? Isteri saya masa sekolah tinggal di pinggir A. Setar, dikelilingi sawah. Padi sajalah yg dia kenal. Saya anak kampung pendalaman & hidup dikelilingi macam2 pokok. Sampai tua ni cinta kat pokok tak pudar & masih asyik tanam pokok, cabut pokok, pangkas pokok & mimpi pokok. Semoga ceria selalu!

Anonymous said...

Quelle est la meilleure façon de rechercher des blogs qui vous intéressent?

Anonymous said...

simply dropping by to say hello

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Nice piece of information.
Can i ask if i can get upih pinang and daun pinang from you? I need it to fullfill a prayer..and i am having trouble to find the tree in Petaling Jaya.


regards,
Mahen

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