Annatto tree – Definition & Meaning

The annatto tree, also known as Bixa orellana, is a tropical plant that is native to South America. It is known for its vibrant red seeds that are used as a natural food coloring and spice in many cuisines around the world. In this article, we will explore the definition, meaning, and associations of the annatto tree.


The annatto tree is a small to medium-sized tree that belongs to the Bixaceae family. It is characterized by its bright green leaves, white to pinkish flowers, and spiky fruit pods that contain the red seeds. The seeds are covered in a waxy coating that is used to produce the dye.


The annatto tree is native to South America, specifically the Amazon rainforest. It has been cultivated for thousands of years by indigenous people for its medicinal and culinary uses. Today, it is grown in many tropical regions around the world, including Mexico, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the annatto tree is “a tropical American tree (Bixa orellana) of the family Bixaceae that is the source of an orange-red dye and a spice.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a tree or shrub of tropical America, bearing red seeds which yield a dye used for coloring food and cosmetics.”


The annatto tree is associated with many cultural and culinary traditions around the world. In Latin America, it is used to color traditional dishes such as rice and beans, while in the Philippines it is used to color desserts such as halo-halo. It is also used in cosmetics and textiles.
In some cultures, the annatto tree has medicinal properties and is used to treat various ailments such as fever, diarrhea, and skin conditions.


The annatto tree is also known by other names such as achiote, lipstick tree, and urucum.


There are no antonyms for the annatto tree.

The same root words

The word “annatto” comes from the Spanish word “achiote,” which is derived from the Nahuatl word “achiotl.” The Nahuatl language is spoken by the Aztecs and other indigenous people of Mexico.

Example Sentences

  1. The annatto tree is an important crop for many farmers in the Amazon rainforest.
  2. The red seeds of the annatto tree are used to color many traditional Latin American dishes.
  3. The dye produced from the annatto tree is used in cosmetics and textiles.
  4. The annatto tree has been used for thousands of years by indigenous people for its medicinal properties.
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