Annatto Tree

Bixa orellana



General Information :

  • Annatto is a small but fairly fast-growing evergreen shrub or small tree growing from 2 - 8 meters tall. 

Distribution :

  • Distributed in tropical parts of India

Habitat : Tropical and Deciduous forest.

Soil : Almost all soil types, with a preference for well-drained, neutral and slightly alkaline soils

Altitude :Up to 2000 m (MSL)

Rainfall :1250-2000 mm

Temperature : 20-26 deg C

Terrain : Plain /gentle slopes

Tree Characteristics :
  • Sensitive to frost and moderately drought resistant

Habit : Evergreen tree

Planting Guidelines

Natural Regeneration :

  • Natural regeneration by seeds under favorable conditions.

Artificial Regeneration :

  • Propagated by Nursery raised seedlings and vegetative cuttings.

Seed collection and Storage :

  • The plant is usually grown from seed taken from freshly gathered ripe pods, which germinate better than dry ones.
  • Mature seeds, taken directly from fresh fruits, 
  • Germinate readily in 7 - 10 days under moist condition.

Seed Treatment :

  • Cold water soaking for 24 hours.

Nursery Technique :

  • Best time for raising the nursery is during April-May months. 
  • The plant can be propagated by seeds or through stem cuttings.
  • Seedlings are raised in polythene bags containing a mixture of soil, sand and FYM (2:1:1) 
  • Seeds germinate in about 8-10 days 
  • Seedlings are transplanted when they are 20 cm tall.

Plantation technique :

  • Pits of size 30 cm3 are dug in early March at a spacing of 4.5 m x 4.5 m. 
  • They are filled with a mixture of soil and compost before the onset of monsoon. 
  • One year old healthy seedlings are planted in the main field at the onset of rain

Care & Disease Control :

  • Pits are watered immediately after planting.
  • Regular irrigation depending on the climate is necessary for good growth and yield of the crop.

Irrigation :

  • For proper growth and survival it is necessary to give one or two waterings after planting. This is specifically required in arid regions.
  • Irrigation after planting is not a prerequisite in areas having sufficient soil moisture and precipitation.
  • Higher survival rate and better rate of growth is reported when soil and water conservation measures are also adopted.

Recommended Harvest :

  •  8 to 10 years

Yield :

  • A three year old plant on an average may yield about 0.5 to 1.0 kg of seeds per tree per year. 
  • The maximum yield is obtained from 4 to 8 years age plantation.
  • Seed yield may be around 250 kg to 500 kg per hectare per year from 4 year old plantation.

Agro Forestory :

  • B. orellana has been successfully cultivated with young citrus groves.

Major uses :

  • The extract from the pigment coating the seeds yields a harmless, non-carcinogenic dye, used as colorings for food, especially dairy products.
  • This dye was also used by Amerindians as war paint and was used in dying wool, cotton and silk, but the color rapidly fades when exposed to light and air.
  • The dye obtained from the seed is used in manufacturing cosmetics.

Market details :

  • Bixa dye cost approximately Rs.1000 - 1500/Kg*
*Subject to change according to market demands