Annatto(redirected from annattos)
Also found in: Dictionary.
(Bixa orellana), a tall shrub or small tree of the family Bixaceae. The alternate leaves are cordate-ovate. The large, five-parted flowers are in terminal panicles. The fruit is a polyspermous bivalve capsule. The annatto is native to tropical America. It has been cultivated for a long time in tropical countries of the Old and New Worlds to obtain an orange dye, also known as annatto. The dye is obtained from the fleshy outer covering of the seeds and is used mainly to color butter, margarine, cheese, and similar food products. Indians used the dye as body paint. The annatto is also used as a hedge and as a windbreak.