Annattostrauch ( annatto, achiote ) ( Bixa orellana )

Bixa is considered by some authors as the only genus in the family of Annattogewächse ( Bixaceae ), which belongs to the order Malvenartigen ( Malvales ). The genus contains five species, the best known is the Annattostrauch (also Orleans Tree) ( Bixa orellana ), a spice and Dye plant.


Bixa are trees or shrubs with yellow or reddish juice. The leaves are just like fruits and fresh shoots filled with brown, shield -like hair, are alternate, are simple and entire, long-stalked and provided with small stipules.

The terminal inflorescences are thyrsenartig. At the flower stems are below the sepals five clearly visible glands. The large, decorative flowers are hermaphroditic, fünfzählig and radial symmetry. The five sepals and petals are arranged in non- growing and imbricate. They are alternately offset from one another, the sepals fall off after flowering, the petals are white or pink. The numerous non- mature stamens are in bundles. The two libraries of anthers are horseshoe- shaped and open at its tip along a short slots. From two to four carpels of the upper permanent ovary with only one compartment is formed. The placentation is parietal, there are numerous ovules. Pollination is by bees.

The short -stalked capsule fruit is occasionally covered with thorns. The numerous seeds are inversely - ovate and cases of a Sarko Testa, which turns into a slurry with moisture.

The basic chromosome number is x = 7


The genus is neuweltlich. Because of its economic importance of Annattostrauch is now distributed worldwide in the tropics, partly naturalized. The other species of the genus are endemic in the Amazon Basin.


The genus with five species:

  • Bixa arborea
  • Bixa excelsa
  • Annattostrauch ( Bixa orellana )
  • Bixa platycarpa
  • Bixa urucurana


  • H.H. Poppendieck: Bixaceae. In: Klaus Kubitzki (ed.): The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants - Volume IV - Flowering Plants - Dicotyledons - Celastrales, Oxalidales, Rosales, Cornales, Ericales. 2003, pp. 33-35.
  • Description of the genus as a separate family in DELTA. (English ).