The Lipstick Tree is a very unique and highly ornamental shrub or small tree that comes from South America. The flowers of this tropical tree are white or bright pink, but the fruit is actually the most desirable part of the plant, made up of spiky brown and red pods that grow in clusters. When those pods dry and crack open, they expose seeds of a red color, from which red pigment can be extracted. This is why the tree is often called the lipstick tree.
It is also used as a condiment in certain parts of the world. It has a floral and nutty smell and is mildly peppery to taste. In the Caribbean and Central American cultures, annatto has been used for thousands of years to cure everything from mild to potentially life-threatening diseases, making it an ancient “superfood”. Zone 9b+ or container. Needs protection from hard freezes.
Other Names: Red dye plant, chitoe, onoto, bija, colorau, urucum, or atsuete