Tuesday, May 15, 2007
This is the inside of an urucu pod I picked today at my neighbor's farm across the road from the Bosque. As you can see, it's full of seeds, each covered with a bright red paste (pulp). This particular fruit isn't totally mature, thus the pulp isn't as thick as it would normally be when harvested. The color is also a bit faded, compared to mature seeds. I forgot to mention that the scientific name, Bixa orellana, is in tribute to Francisco Orellana, the first European to come down the Amazon River in 1541-1542. Bixa means "bright red" in Latin. Some people refer to urucu as the "lipstick plant" because the pulp can be applied to the human body, much like lipstick. The indigenous groups of the Amazon have used urucu for thousands of years for body paint and as a dye for cloth and other artifacts. If you do a quick search on the internet, you'll see that the plant is also medicinal. It's amazing how it's used for so many different aliments.