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Annatto, Achiote, Lipstick Tree

Bixa orellana


This small tree or shrub, with bright red fruits covered withprickles is well known for its dye properties. Annatto has been used by local populations to dye faces, use as lipstick, and add color to foods. It is used by modern industry as a yellow or orange dye in many foods. The flower is about 2" across. delicate pink, with showy stamens. Inside each seed pod are about 50 seeds, which when mashed, produce an intense, red-orange dye.


This tree/shrub likes forest openings, and this particular one was found in a pasture cleared from rainforest along the Macal River in western Belize (see photo#4


I used some crushed seeds as pigment to paint a botanical plate I was making of this plant. #5 is the sketch journal page, with good info on it.

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Irene Brady
Spotted by
Irene Brady

Belmopan, Cayo, Belize

Spotted on Dec 8, 2011
Submitted on Feb 8, 2016

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