Bixa is a small, ornamental shrub or tree with a round head. The seeds of the flower have a reddish powder which can be used as a vegetable tint for soaps, rice, and many other products.
It is believed to come from Brazil originally but was brought to Central and South America by the Indians, who used the coloring as body paint, and by women, who used it as lipstick. The dye contains Vitamin C. There are many medical uses for Bixa including; antacid, hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol), anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aperient (mild laxative), aphrodisiac, astringent, digestive stimulant and many more.
When it comes to cut flowers, it’s not the pretty blooms that are used in the floral industry but the unique seed pods instead. As pretty as the blooms are, they are best left on the tree as they don’t last when cut. The seed pods however do last and add a unique look and texture to floral arrangements.
You can grow bixa from seed easily enough, make sure to plant the seeds when the temperature is at least 19°C. Plant in full sun, ensure your soil is rich as Bixa needs the nutrients. Once established you can expect to see blooms from summer to the end of fall. When the blooms are gone you will see the seed pods emerge.
Gardening Tip: Bixa makes for a great hedge to line fences, driveways, etc.
Climate zones 10-12.