Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lipstick Tree : Bixa Orellana

Recently i visited ICAR Research complex Barapani (Mehghalaya) . Indian Council Of Research Centre or ICAR provides an adequate base for supporting agricultural development in the North East Hilly Region of India. It covers all the fields of agriculture ,horticulture, agricultural engineering,agro forestry,animal sciences and fishery to cater to the research needs of NE region. I spent two good days in the complex guest house and had the oppurtunity to see the area in detail. I came across this interesting tree Bixa Orellana also nick named Lipstick tree. Let me share few things that i learnt about this tree.
(the first picture shows a split seed pod showing the seeds of the tree )
It is a shrub or a bushy tree ranging from 4 -10 mts in height.The plant bears pink flowers and bright red spiny fruits(inedible) which contain red seeds. The fruits dry and harden to brown capsules.Originally it comes from the tropical regions of America. It is called Achiote and is best known as the source of the natural pigment' Annatto ' produced from its fruits.It is used to color food products, such as cheeses, fish, and salad oil. Sold as a paste or powder for culinary use, mainly as a color.It is a very good natural alternative to synthetic food colorings. The workers working around the area told me that it is also used in Sindoor (vermilion) --- i am not very sure if this information is right . This tree is called Sindoori in Hindi.(the second picture shows a cluster of seed pods ).

The achiote has long been used by American Indians to make body paint, especially for the lips, which is the origin of the plant's nickname, lipstick tree .The inedible fruit is harvested for its seeds, which contains Annatto (also called bixin). It can be extracted by stirring the seeds in water .( the picture above shows the tree ).Various indigenous groups paint their hair and bodies with the pulp to repel insects and protect from sunburn.The seeds are given to bulls to make them aggressive for bullfighters .
Some of its other common names around the world are as follows: “changuarica,” “k’u-zub,” and “pumacua” (Mexico), “annato” and “urucu” (Brazil), “urucum” (Germany), “roucou” (Dominica and the French West Indies), “achiot” (Colombia), and “arnotto” (Amerindian).

For more info click here .


  1. Hey...After a long break....Nice to have you back.....

  2. very nice,piece of information!never knew about this!

  3. welcome back, most interesting info.

  4. very interesting article...i am always humbled by nature...there is so much we dont know about it...u got a very lovely space with all informative post..thanks for sharing

    if u get time do visit my blog


  5. Interesting info kavi,nice to see u back,hope u wont disappear again

  6. Soo nice to hv u back Kavita :)
    Very interesting information :)Thanks for sharing :)

  7. So the lipstick tree seeds are given to bulls to make them more aggressive in bull fights? That's odd, especially since they are used in food like salad dressing. Does it make humans aggressive also?

    Good to read your blog, again, Kavita!

  8. You wrote a ARTICLE wowowo .. its been ages since I have seen you :)
    and you come back with another article full of Information..

    Amazing trees and the information.. India is rich...

    Thanks for all the Info... and the sindoor one looks nice :)

  9. You are back. And another interesting bit of infoermation with pics. Good to have you active on blogsphere:)

  10. Welcome back! :)
    great pics and informative as always...who would have thought lipstick came from something like that?!

  11. I am very very happy to see you back, here, Kavita!

    You are a treasure trove of information. Nice to know about this tree.

    Mosquito repellent? Interesting!

    Thanks for the information, Kavita!

  12. great piece of information and well composed.
    Good to see you back in action

  13. Nice to see your post after a long time. Wonderful and interesting information. Liked the pictures very much.

  14. This is very interesting, Kavita. We have quite a few of the Lipstick bushes around Hawaii. I've wondered if the Hawaiians used it also as coloring.

  15. wowww. so nice to c ya back...c the comments many of us missed u stop acting pricey and get back full steam hehe..:)

  16. So happy to see a post here, Kavita!

    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral

  17. Your writting could change the world that you want. Express your thoughts!!. Politics , Business , Entertainment , Sports & Games , Life & Events ,and Health what else?. Meet your like minded here. The top social gathering in one place all the top notches meet here. It is not about win the race, participation is all matters. We proud inviting you to the the internet's best Social community. .

  18. Nice pictures and fascinating account.

  19. @Bhavya.. thanks ,it feels good to be back .

    @Harman....i am glad you liked it.Thanks.

    @Lin Floyd...thank you .

    @Satya...welcome !Thanks for your kind words.I visited your page and loved 'parwal-curry' recipe.

    @Varunavi...thanks for the pokes dear.i will not diappear again,i promise...teheeeee !

    @Swaram..thank you...and special thanks for the nudge .

  20. @Gigi...i googled and found that amongst its many uses it is also used as an aphrodisiac by Native Indians .

    @Bikram..thanks,i love the energy in your comments.

    @Holy Lama..thanks .I missed blogger.

    @Destiny's are right .Thanks.

    @Sandhya...thanks,that means a lot coming from you.

    @Sumandebray...thank you .

    @Babli...thanks dear.

    @Kay..thanks.there are many more uses of this bush,i am thinking of updating this post . are partly responsible for my come back...thanks for all the emails.About acting pricey..ok sir,point noted .

    @Cloudia..thanks ,i am happy to be back.

    @Onkar..thanks Onkar ji.

  21. The informtion you share on the blog, makes waiting for your posts worth while. Amazing info, had no clue about this.

  22. Beautiful shots. Never heard of this tree before.

  23. Thank you for your post! I came through 'Sujata' and though i have been reading her since sometime, to my regret I never noticed the other blog.

    I always wanted to explore Northeast ( have not gone beyond Sikkim)but it never worked out ( partly because of the disturbing stories of the political situation there). Your posts have reawakened my interest in NE and emboldened to say, I will come over some day soon!
    Thanks again.

  24. Happy Independence Day buddy:)

  25. This is so interesting, I did not know about this tree, thank you for sharing.

  26. I suspect that annato came to Hawaii via the Paniolos, or California Spanish cowboys. When I was in Spain I saw annato for sale in packets, where it's called colorante, which it's used to color rice dishes like paella, instead of the more expensive saffron.
    There was an annato tree in our neighborhood, but the owner cut it down. Maybe I should plant one.

  27. @Sujata..thanks,you made me very happy.

    @Rajesh..thanks a lot.

    @V.Ramachandran..a warm welcome !The main reason behind my writing this blog is to create little awareness about NE region of India.I hope you visit this region very soon.

    @Ramesh..same to you buddy.

    @Hattie...i am very happy to see you here.The info in your comment is very interesting.I am thinking of including this to my post.Thanks a lot.

  28. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  29. Nice to see SINDUR. Beautiful orange colour comes out from the seeds once you press with your finger. It is available in Assam.