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Bixa orellena

(Common name:- Annatto)


Bixa orellena

Annatto Annatto is an herb used to produce a red color substance which is used in food to add flavor.


Annatto, sometimes called ROUCOU, is a derivative of achiote trees of tropical regions of the America. It is produced from the reddish pulp which surrounds the seeds of achiote. It is used in many cheese, rice, butter, margarine, smoked fish and mustard oil.

From ancient times it is used by Caribbean and South American cultures.

It is believed to be originated in Brazil and commonly found in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines as coloring agent and to add flavor. Central and South American used its seed to make body paint and lipstick.

Plant Description

Anise has feathery leaves and flat white flower heads, followed by fruits and then small aromatic brown seeds. It is perennial plant and related to caraway, dill, cumin and fennel.

Aniseed can be grown in a sunny sheltered area, and it may reach to near about 45 cm high. This plant puts forth tiny flowers in summer and its seeds can be gathered in the autumn.

Seeds of anise herb are grey-brown color, oval and slightly ridged and measure from 2 to 4mm in length.


Annatto grows in widely tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Rainfall required for it ranges from 1000mm to 3000mm per year in areas where they grow naturally or under cultivation. The suitable cultivation months are july and august. 2oo plants require an acre land.

Parts Used

Annatto's seeds, roots, shoot and leaves are used


It contains bixin, an oil-soluble apocarotenoid, which is the main pigment with norbixin.

It also contains some hydrocarbons which gives a sweet smell. Its seeds contain 4.5 to 5.5% of pigments and 70-80% bixin.

Culinary uses

Medicinal uses

Other uses