Saturday, July 9, 2011


Have you ever heard of this bush / tree?  It is called the "Lipstick Tree"

Lipstick Tree / Achiote 
You may have cooked with, or almost certainly eaten its end product.....

Achiote Seed Pod
...this rather creepy and ominous looking thing!
It is the seed pod which, when split open, contains Annatto seeds.

We were watching another of our favorite TV Chefs, Rick Bayless, and his show "Mexico: One Plate at a Time", and he was showing some recipes that used Annatto powder and Annatto paste.  In giving the background of the ingredient, he showed the plant and said it was very easy to grow
(in fact he had one growing in his yard).  He showed the seed pod and how the seeds were removed and used, and I told 2nd Man, "we need Annatto growing at the farm!".

Annatto is used for coloring foods,

such as cheddar cheese.  It's what gives it the familiar yellowish color.  It's also used in cooking, it is turned into paste, and powder and even achiote flavored oil, due to it's slightly peppery and sweet flavor.  

I got online and did some research and found that it is more commonly called the "Lipstick Tree" (or bush).  It's believed that the name comes from the use of the coloring as lipstick and facial paint of the indigenous people where it was discovered.  It's also thought that the flower looks somewhat like a tube of lipstick.  Best of all, it grows well in our climate.  I just think it would be pretty cool to have yet one more plant growing at the farm that has a part that can be used for cooking.

Not to mention, the fruits are pretty cool!

So, my mission will be to find one of these.  I'll keep you posted.


  1. Those are the fruits,not the flowers : )

    1. Cool, I'll correct that, thank you! Still never found one, dang it, but I'll keep looking!

  2. Just letting you know, you won't be finding that tree in its natural habitat unless you live in South America, Central America, Mexico, or the Caribbean. It was also moved by man to the Philipines and Indo-China. The lipstick tree is more of a nickname, it is also know as annatto. I hope this helps!

    1. You know, one of the local garden centers here had three of them in stock last Spring, but they emailed me after the fact and when I went, they were sold. Ugh. I will check in earlier next year. Thanks for the info, much appreciated. I didn't realize that the name was more of a nickname. Cool!


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