|Achiote seed pods|
The tree is best known as the source of annatto, a natural orange-red condiment (also called achiote or bijol) obtained from the waxy arils that cover its seeds. The ground seeds are widely used in traditional dishes in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, such as cochinita pibil, chicken in achiote, caldo de olla, and nacatamal. Annatto and its extracts are also used as an industrial food coloring to add yellow or orange color to many products such as butter, cheese, margarine, ice creams, meats, and condiments. Some of the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South American originally used the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick, as well as a spice. For this reason, the Bixa orellana is sometimes called the lipstick tree.
The species name, Bixa orellana, was given by Linnaeus after the Spanish conquistador, Francisco de Orellana, an early explorer of the Amazon River. The name achiote derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, āchiotl [aːˈt͡ʃiot͡ɬ]. It may also be referred to as aploppas, or by its original Tupi name uruku, urucu or urucum ("red color"), which is also used for the body paint prepared from its seeds.
Borrowed from Spanish achiote, from Classical Nahuatl āchiyōtl.
- (US) IPA(key): /ˌɑtʃiːˈoʊti/, /ˌɑkiːˈoʊti/
achiote (plural achiotes)
- A tropical American evergreen shrub, Bixa orellana; the lipstick tree.
- The seed of this tree used as a colouring or in Latin American cooking.
- An orange-red dye obtained from this seed.
- E160b (when used as a food colouring)