Gardening Uncategorized

Achiote Tree | An Herbal Ornamental for the Garden

Achiote Tree | An Herbal Ornamental for the Garden

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Achiote (Bixa orellana), A.K.A. the Lipstick Tree, is a small deciduous tree native to Mexico, Central and South America. Achiote can grow up to 20 to 30 feet tall if grown as a tree. However, if pruned correctly, it can retain it’s shrubbery height of 12 feet. Throughout the growing season, Achiote produces¬† attractive, heart-shaped leaves and an abundance of light pink flowers. It produces inedible green fruit that, when it matures, turns a brownish-rust in color and is covered with soft, spiky hairs.

Inside of the Achiote’s fruit are an abundance of seeds surrounded by pulp that is a bright red/orange in color. However, the seeds (Annato) are the true prize, as they are used commercially worldwide to create a red dye that is used widely in various types of products such as cheese, rice, butter and even cosmetics.

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Visually, Achiote makes an exceedingly beautiful addition to gardens in USDA zones 10-11.¬† Achiote can be grown from seed but propagation from stems and nursery-grown plants are recommended to provide rapid growth and a better fruit yield. In addition to full sun, Achiote prefers well draining, loamy soil and consistent watering. It can be grown in a container approximate to it’s predicted size. Typically, it takes 2-3 years before Achiote will produce fruit.

Achiote has very few pest problems or diseases (powdery mildew is one exception). Fertilizer is not required to grow this exceptionally hardy tree, but a combination of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash will greatly improve your yield and encourage faster growth.

Where To Buy Achiote Plants:

https://kensnursery.com/product/showy-lipsticktree-true-annatto-bixa-orellana

https://urbantropicals.com/product/annatto-lipstick-tree-bixa-orellana

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1 Comment

  1. tonytomeo
    September 3, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    This is one that I have not heard of, although the name sounds familiar. I have no immediate use for food coloring or dyes, but could probably think of a few. The dyes that I know of are toxic, which does not really matter for what they are used for.

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