Bixa orellana (Annatto tree, Lipstick tree, Achiote)
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Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants)
> Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants)
> Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering
plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids >
Eurosid II > Order: Malvales > Family: Bixaceae
Native to tropical America. Cultivated in southern Africa. Produces seeds that contain
an orange-red dye called annatto, which is used for colouring foods such as
cheese, butter, smoked fish and salad oils. Trees are cultivated in tropical
regions round the world. With the banning of synthetic dyes (because of their
carcenogenic properties), natural dyes such as annatto have assumed greater
importance. The orange-red colour is caused by a carotenoid pigment called
bixin. Annatto is the original dye used for body paint by American Indians.
van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World -
Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.