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Achiote
An achiote blossom
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Bixaceae
Genus: Bixa
Species: B. orellana
Binomial name
Bixa orellana
L.

Achiote (Bixa orellana) is a shrub or small tree from the tropical region of the American continent. The name derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, achiotl. It is also known as Aploppas, and its original Tupi name urucu. It is cultivated there and in Southeast Asia, where it was introduced by the Spanish in the 17th century. It is best known as the source of the natural pigment annatto, produced from the fruit. The plant bears pink flowers and bright red spiny fruits which contain red seeds. The fruits dry and harden to brown capsules.

Contents

Characteristics

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 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.

Ethnomedical uses

  • 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.
  • The sap from fruits is also used to treat type 2 diabetes, and fungal infections.

References

  • B. orellana and annatto
  • Van Wyk, Ben-Erik (2005). Food Plants of the World. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc. ISBN 0-88192-743-0

Gallery

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Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Bixa orellana

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids II
Ordo: Malvales
Familia: Bixaceae
Genus: Bixa
Species: Bixa orellana

Name

Bixa orellana L.

Vernacular names


Simple English

Achiote
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked) Eudicots
(unranked) Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Bixaceae
Genus: Bixa
Species: B. orellana
Binomial name
Bixa orellana
L.

Achiote (Bixa orellana) is a shrub or small tree from the tropical area of the American continent. The name comes from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, achiotl. It is also known as Aploppas, and its first Tupi name urucu. It is grown there and in Southeast Asia, where it was brought by the Spanish in the 17th century. It is best known as the source of the natural pigment annatto, made from the fruit. The plant bears pink flowers and bright red spiny fruits which contain red seeds. The fruits dry and harden to brown capsules.


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