Shinduri bij or Achiote, Bixa orellana

Shinduri bij or Achiote (Bixa orellana, family: Bixaceae) is an evergreen shrub or small tree with few branches and dense foliage. Dye extracted from seed is used to color ointment. Its original home is tropical America. Red Indians paint their body and lips by the color obtain from its seeds.

Shinny leaves are green, heart-shaped with pointed apex, veins and midribs are clear; 10-18 cm long and 6-12 cm wide, alternate, petiole, 5-7 cm long. 

Flowers are very attractive, showy, purple-white, 5 cm across, borne on upright terminal panicles, 7-12 cm long; sepals 5, petals 5, with many stamens. Flower blooms in Autumn-winter.

Fruits are also attractive. They are globose, 3-5 cm across, covered with soft reddish prickles. Seeds covered with a thick red pulp which yields a valuable dye. Leaf, root and seed are used in preventing fever, gonorrhea, jaundice, dysentery and urinary problem. 

The plant is propagated by seeds. In Bangladesh it is planted in gardens and parks for fruits and also for flowers. Occasionally, its seed-color is falsely sold at a high price as a Saffron. The beautiful plant is also called by Lotkan in Bangla and Lipstick tree in English. By the by, the vermilion-color is very similar to its seed-color, for this reason, it is known as Shinduri bij in Bangla.


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