Botanical Name : Bixa orellana
Species: B. orellana
Synonym(s): Bixa katangensis DelpierreOrellana americana L.Orellana orellana Kuntze
Common Names : Annatto Seed , achiote, lipstick tree. It is also known as Aploppas, and its original Tupi name urucu.(Arabic) : galuga
(Bengali) : latkan
(Creole) : chiót, woukou
(English) : annatto tree, arnato tree, lipstick, lipstick tree
(Filipino) : echuete, sotis
(French) : annato, annatto, chiote, rocouyer, roucou
(Hindi) : latkan
(Indonesian) : jarak belanda, kesumba, kunyit jawa
(Khmer) : châm’-puu, châm-puu chrâluek
(Lao (Sino-Tibetan)) : kh’am, satii, somz phuu
(Malay) : galuga, jarak belanda, kesumba, kunyit jawa
(Portuguese) : urucum
(Spanish) : achiote, anato, bija
(Swahili) : mzingefuri
(Tamil) : japhara
(Thai) : kam set, kam tai
(Vietnamese) : diêù nhuôm, siêm phung
Habitat :Bixa orellana is native to tropical Central and South America but now widely distributed throughout the tropics. Introduced to the Philippines during its Spanish period. It is cultivated there and in Southeast Asia, where it was introduced by the Spanish in the 17th century.
Bixa orellana is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 2-8 m high; trunk up to 10 cm in diameter; bark light to dark brown, tough, smooth, sometimes fissured, lenticellate; inner bark pinkish towards the outside with orange sap, slightly bitter; twigs green with minute, rusty, reddish-brown scales, becoming dark brown. Leaves spirally arranged, simple, stipulate, ovate, 7.5-24 x 4-16 cm, shallowly cordate to truncate at base, longly acuminate at apex, green or dark green above, grey or brownish-green beneath; scaly when young, glabrous; petiole terete, thickened at both ends, 2.5-12 cm long. Flowers in terminal branched panicles, 8-50 flowered, fragrant, 4-6 cm across; pedicel scaly, thickened at the apex, bearing 5-6 large glands; sepals 4-5, free, obovate, 1-1.2 cm long, caducous, covered with reddish-brown scales; petals 4-7, obovate, 2-3 x 1-2 cm, pinkish, whitish or purplish tinged; stalks scaly; stamens numerous, 1.6 cm long; anthers violet; pistil 1.6 cm long, composed of bristly 1-celled, superior ovary; style thickened upwards, 12-15 mm long; a short, 2-lobed stigma. Fruit a spherical or broadly elongated ovoid capsule, 2-4 x 2-3.5 cm, flattened, 2 valved, more or less densely cloaked with long bristles, green, greenish-brown or red when mature; seeds numerous, obovoid and angular, 4.5 mm long, with bright orange-red fleshy coats. ‘Bixa’ is derived from a local South American name.
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The inedible fruit is harvested for its seeds, which contain annatto, also called bixin. It can be extracted by stirring the seeds in water. It is used to color food products, such as cheeses, fish, and salad oil. Sold as a paste or powder for culinary use, mainly as a color, it is known as “achiote,” “annatto,” “bijol,” or “pimentão doce.” It is a main ingredient in the Yucatecan spice mixture recado rojo, or “achiote paste.” The seeds are ground and used as a subtly flavored and colorful additive in Latin American, Jamaican, Chamorro and Filipino cuisine. Annatto is growing in popularity as a natural alternative to synthetic food coloring compounds. While it has a distinct flavor of its own, it can be used to color and flavor rice instead of the much more expensive saffron. It is an important ingredient of cochinita pibil, the spicy pork dish popular in Mexico. It is also a key ingredient in the drink tascalate from Chiapas, Mexico.
In several European countries (e.g. Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway) the pigment, extracted by solvent or boiling the seeds in oil, have been and often still is used as color in margarines and several other foods. The pigment has E-number E160b. The seeds are collected from wild-growing bushes or from plantations, in Latin America, Africa (e.g. Kenya) and Asia. However, since there is no strong organization promoting the use of annatto, the color beta carotene, which is more expensive, has pushed the natural pigment out of many applications
Achiote paste, favored in Yucatán, Oaxacan, and Belizean cuisine, is made from the slightly bitter, earthy flavored, red annatto seeds, mixed with other spices and ground into a paste. Achiote is a distinctly colored and flavored mainstay of Mexican and Belizean kitchens.
The paste is dissolved in either lemon juice, water, oil or vinegar to create a marinade, and marinated or rubbed directly upon meat. The meat is then grilled, baked, barbecued or broiled. Sometimes it is added to corn dough to create a zesty flavor and color in empanadas and red tamales.
The achiote has long been used by American Indians to make body paint, especially for the lips, which is the origin of the plant’s nickname, lipstick tree. The use of the dye in the hair by men of the Tsáchila of Ecuador is the origin of their usual Spanish name, the Colorados.
In developing countries, particularly in Colombia, people with low income and less access to modern medicine resources use folk medicine and natural remedies for the treatment of common infections. Achiote is among those herbs used in Colombian folk medicine to treat infections of microbial origin. Adding to the known health benefits exerted by carotenoids, a bioactive sesquiterpene from achiote exhibited moderate anti-fungal activity. Extracts of the leaves of achiote possess antimicrobial activity against Gram positive microorganisms, with maximum activity against Bacillus pumilus. Achiote leaves have been employed to treat malaria and Leishmaniasis.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider