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Annatto, Lipstick Plant, Urucum, Colorau, Achiote

Bixa orellana

Family: Bixaceae
Genus: Bixa (BIKS-uh) (Info)
Species: orellana
Synonym:Bixa katagensis


Edible Fruits and Nuts

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:

Pale Pink


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Late Fall/Early Winter

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Astatula, Florida

Dunnellon, Florida

Port Charlotte, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Titusville, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Pukalani, Hawaii

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 30, 2019, Kevalsha from Astatula, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

My Achiote plants have been growing for a few years in zone 9 Florida. If we have cold weather the plants die to the ground. All I do is mulch them to protect the roots and by June each year they come back. They seem to have gotten used to where they are growing. I trim the dead branches sometime in the spring and they come back. Las year one of the trees had the seed pods but the neighborhood kids....led by my granddaughter, picked the pods before they were ripe.


On Sep 19, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The scarlet fruits are this shrub's main attraction---they last for months, and are showy in winter when even in semitropical gardens some color may be especially appreciated. In south Florida, this would be called a snowbird plant.


On Mar 5, 2015, MarlaBalla from Port Charlotte, FL wrote:

I too have had the same issue with growing the Annatto tree from seed. I purchased the seed from Horizon Herbs and both times the seeds germinated quickly but soon withered before its first set of true leaves. I've tried three times so far under perfect soil/water/weather conditions. I'm trying to increase the humidity by covering the seedlings but it doesn't appear to be working. I live in SW Florida.


On Jul 5, 2014, ara133 from State College, PA wrote:

This is the 2nd time I've tried to grow bixa orellana... the seeds germinate readily but the seedlings get their first true leaf and all the leaves suddenly drop off and they stop growing. Indoors, regular miracle gro potting soil, watered regularly. I just put one out on the balcony because it's been really humid - it hasn't dropped its leaves yet (still has 2 seed leaves and 1 'real'); perhaps humidity is key.


On Apr 18, 2014, FlaFlower from Titusville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I started them from seed last year here in zone 9A completely without issue. They were robust and cold hearty the stated zone 11 simply isn't true, I did no protection of them and they laughed at out cold snaps and continued to grow well even threw the winter. Beautiful leaves! Nice straight up ward growth so far.


On Jan 8, 2009, lauraroxie from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

Plant is growing quite well in the University of South Florida botanical garden. It is growing in partial shade. While this plant is listed as a zone 11 plant, the area is a humid 9A and 12-15 feet tall. Plant recieved several hours in the low to mid 20s last winter and bloomed heavily the following fall.


On Jan 26, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant which is the only species of the family Bixaceae. Annatto, Lipstick Plant, Urucum, Colorau (Bixa orellana) is naturalized in Hawaiia, Puerto Rico and the Vigin Islands.


On Jul 14, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

From the seeds of this plant you can obtain annato, a commonly used red condiment. The flowers are beautiful, pink, but the fruits are the most attarctive, red and spiny.