Annatto, Achiote, Lipstick tree
Bixa or Annatto is well known for its seeds which are used as a spice and food coloring, often in the world famous Jamaican beef patties. It is a small tree which bears pink, white, or purple-tinted flowers. The name Bixa orellana is derived from Francisco de Orellana, a 16th century Spanish explorer.
Bixa is also known as “lipstick tree” because Central and South American Natives used the seeds to color their bodies and lips. Red coloring on outside of seeds easily dyes bare skin. Several washings with soap are required before color can be removed.
Common Name: Annatto, Lipstick tree
Botanical Name: Bixa orellana
Plant Type: Evergreen tree
Origin: Tropical Americas
Zones: 10B – 11
Height: to 30′, 10 to 15′ wide
Rate of Growth: Medium
Salt Tolerance: None
Soil Requirements: Does best in rich, moist, well-drained soil — although can be grown in almost any type soil.
Water Requirements: Drought tolerant
Nutritional Requirements: Feed with composted cow manure
Light Requirements: Full sun
Form: Intricately branched
Leaves: Heart shaped to 6″ long
Flowers: White, pink or purple tinged, rose shaped, late summer and autumn
Fruits: Ovoid bristly red seed capsules
Pests or diseases: Leaf spot and powdery mildew. Give protection from wind to protect leaves from damage.
Uses: Seeds used as a spice and food coloring. Has a weak perfumed scent.
Bad Habits: Handling seeds leaves a persistent reddish-orange color on bare skin.
Cost: $ — Very reasonable
Propagation: Seeds or cuttings
Source ( “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”): THE AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY A-Z ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDEN PLANTS