Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12 where is easily grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Best with consistent moisture.
Bixa orellana, commonly called annato or achiote, is an evergreen tropical shrub or small tree that is native to tropical parts of Central and South America. It has been introduced over time to a large number of tropical areas around the world including South East Asia, India and the Philippines. As a shrub, it typically grows to 6-12' tall, but as a tree will sometimes rise to 20-30' tall. Pointed, ovate to heart-shaped leaves grow to 3-7" long. Ornamentally attractive pink flowers (2" diameter) bloom in terminal branched panicles. Each flower has 5 deciduous sepals and five petals. Flowers are followed by bristly spiny fruit in reddish-brown to bright red capsules. Fruits ripen throughout the year in tropical climates. Each fruit capsule resembles in appearance the bur of a chestnut tree (Castanea). The capsule splits open when ripe to reveal seeds in a layer of orange pulp. Annato is the name of a tasteless orange/yellow dye extracted from the pulp surrounding the seeds. This dye was used many years ago by indigenous people for a variety of purposes including body paint, insect repellant, food colorant, inks, dyes, sunscreen, soap additives and fabric colorant. This plant was also reported to have medicinal uses ranging from treatment for fevers to dysentary to cancers. In the modern world, dyes from this plant are still commercially produced for adding yellow color to a number of food products including chorizo, margarine, rice and cheese. Indigenous people still use the dyes for cosmetics (hence the common name of lipstick tree) and hair dyes.
Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the South American vernacular name for this evergreen tree.
Specific epithet honors Francisco de Orellano (1511-1546), Spanish explorer and conquistador, who discovered the Amazon River.
Annato or achiote, is an evergreen tropical shrub or small tree that is native to tropical parts of Central and South America
Flowers are followed by bristly spiny fruit in reddish-brown to bright red capsules
USDA Zones 10-12
In cooler regions the Lipstick Tree makes an excellent patio plant, moved outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter
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