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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 3/14/2013)
 

Flora Data (Last Modified On 3/14/2013)
Species Bixa orellana L.
PlaceOfPublication Sp. P1. 512, 1753.-Fig. 1.
Description Shrub or tree, usually evergreen, 1.5-10 (15) m tall, the trunk up to 10 cm in diam, the bark lenticellate, the branchlets covered with minute, reddish-brown scales. Leaves with the petioles slender, terete, slightly enlarged at the apex, 1.8- 14 cm long, more or less densely covered with minute scales, the stipules narrowly ovate, acuminate at the apex, ca 1 cm long, fugacious; blade ovate or sometimes ovate-
Habit Shrub tree
Description triangular, infrequently oblong-ovate, the base truncate or truncate-subcordate or rounded or rounded-subcordate, the apex sometimes acute to generally gradually long-acuminate and with the acumen usually blunt and often inconspicuously mucronulate, entire-margined, 5.5-27 cm long and 3-18 cm wide, membranous to chartaceous, 5-palminerved, slightly discolor, the upper surface usually more or less shining and glabrous or sparsely lepidote especially when young and along the veins, the lower surface dull, paler, more or less densely lepidote, and with the main veins and secondary veins prominent. Panicles small to large, few- to many-flowered, the axes densely covered with minute, reddish-brown scales, the bracts and bracteoles squamiform and fugacious. Flowers with the pedicels up to 1 cm long, densely covered with minute, reddish-brown scales; sepals circular, cucullate, 7-9 mm in diam, densely lepidote outside; petals obovate, rounded at the apex, 20-33 mm long and 8-20 mm wide, white or pink; androecium ca 14-15 mm long, the fila- ments filiform, the anthers ca 1-1.5 mm long; ovary more or less globose to pyri- form, densely to sparsely bristly, the style up to 15 mm long, slightly enlarged towards the apex, glabrous. Capsules very variable in shape, size, and indumentum, oblong-ovoid to ovoid to globose to + reniform to transversely ellipsoid, more or less flat- tended or not, rounded to acute or sometimes acuminate at the apex, 1.3-4.5 cm long and 1.3-4 cm broad, brown to flaming red, densely to sparsely covered with long or sometimes short, flexible spines, sometimes nearly smooth; seeds obovoid- angular, ca 5 mm long, the testa densely reddish-orange papillate. Native to and widely distributed throughout continental tropical America; planted and naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions of the world; known locally as achote or achiote.
Specimen BOCAS DEL TORO: Changuinola Valley, in abandoned land, Dunlap 242 (F, US); Changuinola to 5 mi S at junction of Rios Changuinola & Terebe, Lewis et al. 945 (MO); Isla Colon, von Wedel 1299 (MO); Old Bank I, von Wedel 2092 (MO, US); Water Valley, von Wedel 1642 (MO, US); vie of Chiriqui Lagoon, von Wedel 1326 (MO). CANAL ZONE: Chagres, Fendler 328 (MO, US); Barro Colorado I, Shattuck 340 (F), 703 (F), Wetmore & Abbe 130 (F), Wilson 150 (F), Woodworth & Vestal 525 (F); along Chagres River, NW of Gamboa, Dwyer & Robyns 68 (MO); along Rio Chagres betw Gamboa & Alhajuela, alt 30-60 m, Allen 957 (F, MO, US); in Government forest along Las Cruces Trail, alt 75 m, Hunter & Allen 718 (MO); Culebra Cut, Gaillard s.n. (US); Chiva-Chiva Trail, Red Tank to Pueblo Nuevo, Piper 5764 (US); vie of Miraflores, White 127 (F, MO); vie of Rio Cocoli, Rd K-9, nr bridge along rd, few ft from stream, Stern et al. 311 (MO, US); nr Rodman Base, Dwyer 2669 (MO); Rd C-21, Duke 5778 (MO); s. loc., Johansen 69 (US). CHIRIQUI: Rio San Cristobal, 2 mi W of David, alt 150 ft, Tyson 915 (MO). COLON: betw France Field, Canal Zone, & Catival, moist thicket, Standley 30317 (US); Juan Minas plantation, Rio Chagres, region above Gamboa, alt 25 m, Allen 4111 (MO); Achiote, Tyson et al. 4504 (MO). DARIEN: ca 10 mi S of El Real on Rio Pirre, Duke 5476 (MO); vie of Pinogana, Allen 936 (F, MO, US). HERRERA: 10 mi S of Ocu', Tyson et al. 2821 (MO). LOS SANTOS: Pocri, Dwyer 1214 (MO); Punta Mala, Tyson 2731 (MO). PANAMA: rd to San Carlos, Harvey 5140 (F); along Rio Chilibre, Piper 5665 (US); betw Matias Hernandez & Juan Diaz, Standley 31969 (US); Tocumen, Dwyer 3100 (MO), 4430A (MO); Rio Tocumen, moist forest, Standley 26751 (US); banks of Mamoni River, below La Capitano, alt 20-25 m, Pittier 4581 (F, US); Rio Bayano, nr crossing of Pan-Amer Hwy, above confluence with Rio Chepo, Duke 3982 (MO); along rd betw Panama City & Chepo, Dodge et al. 16630 (MO); Taboga I, moist thicket, Standley 27879 (US). VERAGUAS: ca 5 mi N of Santiago, vie of Santa Maria River, Blum & Tyson 595 (MO); Santiago, Dwyer 1357 (MO).
Note Bixa orellana is highly variable especially regarding the form, size, and indumentum of the capsules. Among the Panamanian material the following varieties can be recognized: the var. urucurana (Willd.) 0. Ktze. ex Pilger (in Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. ed. 2, 21: 315, 1925) characterized by the rather small, globose to ? reniform or transversely ellipsoid capsules densely covered with long, flexible spines, and the var. leiocarpa (0. Ktze.) Standley & Williams (Fieldiana: Bot. 29: 358, 1961) with ? flattened, ellipsoid, nearly unarmed capsules. An exhaustive study of all available herbarium material is greatly needed in order to evaluate these fruit variations. The plant is important for the reddish-orange dye obtained from the fleshy testa of the seeds and commercially known as annatto. This is used for coloring food, especially rice, margarine, butter, cheese, soups, etc., and for coloring oils, varnishes and cosmetics. The Indians paint their faces and bodies with it, "partly for adornment and partly for relief from gnats, mosquitoes, and other insects" (cf. Standley, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 27: 270, 1928).
 
 
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