29 July 2012

Lipstick Tree or Annato is Bixa orellana from S America


Top Tropicals has the shrub for sale.
Annato is often grown as an ornamental for its pretty, fragrant, pink flowers even though they last only one day. 
The seed pods that follow the flowers are covered with red hairs.

On a recent visit to Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory in Oklahoma City, Kenton Peters, the Education Coordinator, pointed out their Lipstick Tree and its unique features.

Lipstick Tree, Annato, is native to Central and South America, Brazil in particular but is grown in many tropical areas, including Florida in the U.S..

The name Bixa orellana is derived from Francisco de Orellana, a 16th century Spanish explorer.

Kenton Peters, shows the prickly outer shell of the Lipstick Tree seed pod.
The seeds have and orange-red coating that is used as a food dye and in cosmetics. Peters reminded us that we have seen Annato on the list of ingredients of cheese and he's right, of course.

The red color is also used in polishes, lipstick and other products. The Lipstick part of the name comes from the red color being used in pre-commercial face paint.

Filipino and Mexican foods use this safe coloring in their foods. Annato oil can be made at home.


The mature size of the shrub
is 30-feet tall and 15-feet wide.
The Lipstick Tree can be grown from seeds that take up to 4 months to germinate.
Tradewinds Fruit offers the seeds.

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