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Achiote, or Annatto


Bixaceae Bixa orellana L.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

Tropical shrub or small tree. The fruits are heart-shaped, brown or reddish brown at maturity, and are covered with short stiff hairs. When fully mature, the fruits split open exposing the numerous seeds. Although it does not produce an edible fruit, the achiote is widely grown for the orange-red pulp that covers the seeds. The achiote dye, which is prepared by stirring the seeds in water, is used to color butter, cheese, rice and other foods. In the Philippine Islands the seeds are ground and used as a condiment.

Last update June 26, 1996 by by aw