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Bixa orellana L.

Family Name: Bixaceae
Synonyms: Bixa arborea
Common Name: Anatto, Lipstick Tree, Achiote, Lipstick Plant, Kesumba, Jarak Belanda, Annato Dye Plant, Kunyit Jawa, Kesumba Keling, 红木, 胭脂树

Bixa orellana, commonly known as Anatto or Lipstick Tree is an evergreen shrub to a small tree that boasts beautiful pink star-shaped flowers and scarlet rambutan-like fruit. The red-orange pigment from the pulp is used as food colourant or for commercial dye!

Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Bee Attracting Plants Herb & Spice Roadside Tree / Palm Ornamental Flowers Woody Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Open
Maximum Height 10 m


Native Distribution Tropical America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Large shrub to a small tree that usually grows up to 6 m tall, but can reach up to 8 m.
Trunk Light to dark brown, smooth but sometimes fissured.
Roots Taproot
Foliage Leaf blades are deep green on the upper side, pale green on the underside; cordate to triangular with 5 palmately veined. The leaf has cordate base and acuminate tip with entire margin.
Flowers Pink, star-shaped flowers are composed of 5 obovate petals and numerous stamens. They occur in small clusters near the branch tips.
Fruits Bright red fruits are egg-shaped and bristly, resembling rambutans. The seeds are wrapped in orange-red, creamy tissue known as arils. Fruits eventually turn brown before splitting open.
Cultivation Plant grows on almost all soil types, including poor soils but not shade. It can grow larger when provided with soil rich in organic matter. Transplant seedlings when they reach about 20 cm tall. It is best to provide a planting distance of 3m by 3m for best growth. Prune occasionally to maintain plant at desirable height.
Etymology The common name Achiote is dervied from the Nahuatl word (a Mexican dialect) for the species which is "achiotl."
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Medicinal ( Mixture of red pulp and oil can be apply to skin to help in healing of minor wounds and burns, prevents scaring and blisters. Leaves are used to treat fever, snake bite, sore throat, dysentery and leprosy.  The roots are used as a purgative and the root bark are used as antipyretic and antiperiodic in Philippines.)
[Others]: The red-orange dye obtained from the pulp are commonly used for coloring rice, cheeses, soft drinks, and soup. The dye is also used to dye textiles in some regions.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping Is commonly planted for its ornamental flowers and reddish fruits along the wayside and small garden.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Easy to Grow, Fertile Loamy Soils, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bee-Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Human))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Planting Distance To 3
Transplanting Tolerance Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Pruning Prune occasionally to maintain plant at desirable height and increase yield of fruits.
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting
Seed or Spore Germination Duration From 8
Seed or Spore Germination Duration To 10
Seed or Spore Germination Duration Unit Days


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Cordate)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cordate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Cream / Off-White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Stellate / Star-shaped
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Bristly
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule
Mature Seed Colour(s) Red


References Polunin, Ivan. 2010. Plants and Flowers of Singapore. Malaysia: Marshall Cavendish Editions .

Image Repository



Master ID 431
Species ID 1727
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 25 September 2021.

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