Achiote (Bixa orellana) is a shrub or small tree originating from the tropical region of the Americas. North, Central, and South American natives originally used the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick, as well as a spice. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the lipstick tree.
The tree is best known as the source of annatto, a natural orange-red condiment (also called “achiote” or “bijol”) obtained from the waxy arils that cover its seeds. The ground seeds are widely used in traditional dishes in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, such as cochinita pibil, chicken in achiote and caldo de olla. Annatto and its extracts are also used as an industrial food coloring to add yellow or orange color to many products such as butter, cheese, sausages, cakes, and popcorn.