NOM. VULG.—Atsuiti, Achuiti, Tag.; Achiote, Achuete, Sp.-Fil.; Annatto, Eng.
USES.—The principal use of the seeds is in cookery and everybody knows the yellow color which Filipino cooks impart to almost all their dishes. In medicine the fine powder that covers the seeds is used as a hæmostatic and internally as a stomachic. On account of the astringent qualities of the coloring matter it is used in some countries to treat dysentery, a fact which suggests its possible therapeutic or rather hygienic usefulness as a condiment. It seems to effect a cure in dysentery in the same manner as ipecac.
In India, Brazil and the Antilles the natives make a sort of paste of achuete known under the name of rocu. There is a hard, odorless form of rocu and another soft, unctuous, of a delicate red color and an odor rendered highly disagreeable by the urine added to it to keep it soft. Rocu is the preparation of achuete that has been subjected to chemical analysis. Its composition is as follows: Two coloring matters, bixin (C28H34O5), of a red color, resinous, soluble in alcohol, ether, alkaline solutions and benzine, crystallizing in microscopic laminæ, quadrangular, red, of a metallic violet lustre; orellin, yellow in color, soluble in alcohol and in water.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A well-known tree growing to a height of 5–7 meters, with leaves alternate, simple, oval, heart-shaped at the base, sharply pointed, glabrous, short petioles. Flowers in panicles. Calyx, 5 rounded sepals, tuberculate at the base, imbricated, caducous. Corolla of 5 rose-colored petals.
Stamens very numerous, free, inserted on the receptacle. Capsule round, dark red, bristling with stout hairs of the same color. The seeds are covered with a fine, yellowish-red powder.
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