seeds of Bixa orellana, Achiote
Bixa orellana Samen
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Bixa orellana, also known as Achiote, is tree species of the family Bixaceae. The tree’s synonyms include Bixa tinctaria, Orellana orellana, and Bixa orleana. A common name for the tree is the lipstick tree. Bixa orellana has its origins in the Americas. The plant’s Successful naturalization means one can now find it growing in large numbers in Africa, Europe and Asia Bixa orellana is a medium-sized tree with a height of between 6 and10 metres. The plant has rose-like flowers that grow in clusters and have a diameter of 5cm. The flowers bear red spiny fruits that also occur in clusters and contain many seeds. The fruits dry up over time and eventually snap open to expose the seeds. The fruit usually takes 65 to 70 days to mature. The pigment one can draw from the seeds was the precursor to modern-day synthetic dyes. The pigment was a useful ingredient in the making of chocolate, cheese, margarine, and paints. While the seeds aren’t useful to processors anymore, many people in the Americas still rely on them to colour various dishes. The seeds also convey a unique aroma and flavour to food. A common Latin American practice involves mixing the seeds with other spices and seeds to create a powder which adds flavour to food. Dishes that benefit from the addition of this powder include soups, sauces, meats, and gravy. The colour one derives from the seeds is also ideal for the making of body paint. The use of such paints was a common practice amongst the American Indians. Aztecs, on the other hand, used the paint to write. Bixa orellana is a fast grower that thrives both in tropical and sub-tropical environments. The tree prospers in fertile, well-drained soils that have high moisture levels throughout the year. The tree also grows well both in partial shade and in the full glare of the sun.
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