Sunday, April 11, 2010


One of the visitors to the Taman Herba Vokasma blog asked me if I knew where to locate the Lipstick Plant. Actually my late grandfather planted it in the compound of our old house many years ago but it has since been chopped down. He used it to make a herbal concoction for sprains.
From books and magazines that I have read, this plant is also used by the Orang Aslis in Malaysia and I guess that if my visitor were to go visit an aboriginal village, he might just find the tree for his research. Anyway, I'll try asking two of my Orang Asli students if they have the plant in their settlement. If yes, I'll let everyone know.

Lipstick plant is actually the nickname for Achiote (Bixa orellana). It is a shrub or small tree which is native to the Americas. We have the plant here as well. The plant bears pink flowers and bright red rambutan-like fruits which contain red seeds. The fruits dry and harden to brown capsules.
The fruit cannot be eaten but instead is harvested for its seeds which contain a red dye caleld bixin. The inedible fruit is harvested for its seeds, which contain annatto, also called bixin. It can be extracted by stirring the seeds in water. The achiote has long been used by American Indians to make body paint, especially for the lips, which would explain why it is called Lipstick plant.

1 comment:

Autumn Belle said...

My late grandma used to grow one of these plants too. The fruits and flowers are beautiful and unique. I like the striking red colour.