Economic Botany

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 127–135 | Cite as

The Domestication of Annatto (Bixa orellana) from Bixa urucurana in Amazonia

  • Priscila Ambrósio Moreira
  • Juliana Lins
  • Gabriel Dequigiovanni
  • Elizabeth Ann Veasey
  • Charles R. Clement
Article

The Domestication of Annatto (Bixa orellana) fromBixa urucuranain Amazonia.

Annatto (Bixa orellana) is an important colorant domesticated in the Neotropics, although it is not clear where or from which wild populations. We reviewed the available biological, archaeological, and ethnographic information about annatto, and integrated this with our recent ethnobotanical observations of cultivated and non–cultivated populations in order to evaluate the hypothesis that what is classified as Bixa urucurana is the wild ancestor of cultivated annatto, Bixa orellana. Most B. urucurana populations we found in Amazonia occurred in open forests or anthropogenic landscapes, although never cultivated, and always associated with riparian environments. While cultivated annatto always produces abundant pigment, B. urucurana populations that we observed contained variable amounts of pigment, from very little to nearly the amount of cultivated annatto, suggesting gene flow from cultivated to non–cultivated. Bixa urucurana has indehiscent fruits, which indicate changes in dehiscence during annatto domestication, a notable feature rarely found in other tree species. Local residents identified the non–cultivated populations as wild annatto (urucum bravo), and they emphasized their smaller fruits with less pigment, their spontaneous regeneration, their non–use, and that they hybridize with cultivated annatto. Ethnography identified the symbolic importance of annatto, but an explicit mention of origin only comes from southern Amazonia. Although the oldest annatto archaeological record came from the Caribbean, domestication occurred in northern South America, since B. urucurana does not occur in the Caribbean. Traditional ecological knowledge and morphology identified the close relationship between B. urucurana (never cultivated) and B. orellana (always cultivated). Evidence reported here strongly supports Kuntze’s (1925) suggestion that Bixa urucurana Willd. is a variety of B. orellana L., thus identifying the wild ancestor of cultivated annatto.

Key words

Ethnobotany taxonomy archaeology domestication syndrome. 

A domesticação do urucum (Bixa orellana) a partir de Bixaurucuranana Amazônia.

Urucum (Bixa orellana) é um importante corante domesticado na região Neotropical, mas não é claro onde ou a partir de quais populações silvestres. Nós revisamos as informações biológicas, arqueológicas e etnográficas disponíveis sobre urucum, e integramos com nossas recentes observações etnobotânicas de populações cultivadas e não cultivadas com o objetivo de avaliar a hipótese de que o que é classificado como Bixa urucurana seja o ancestral silvestre do urucum cultivado, Bixa orellana. A maioria das populações de Bixa urucurana que encontramos na Amazônia foi encontrada em florestas abertas, ambientes antropogênicos, embora nunca cultivadas, e sempre associadas com ambientes ripários. Enquanto o urucum cultivado sempre produz pigmento em abundância, as populações de B. urucurana que observamos continham quantidades variáveis de pigmento, desde muito pouco até quantidade próxima à produzida pelo urucum cultivado, sugerindo fluxo gênico de populações cultivadas para não cultivadas. Bixa urucurana possui frutos indeiscentes, o que indica mudanças na deiscência ao longo do processo de domesticação do urucum, uma característica notável e raramente encontrada em outras espécies arbóreas. Populações locais identificaram as populações não cultivadas como “urucum bravo”, e enfatizaram seus frutos menores e com menos pigmentação, sua regeneração espontânea, seu não uso e a possibilidade de hibridizar com o urucum cultivado. Registros etnográficos identificaram a importância simbólica do urucum, mas uma menção explícita de origem vem somente do sul da Amazônia. Embora o registro arqueológico mais antigo do urucum esteja no Caribe, a domesticação ocorreu no Norte da América do Sul, uma vez que B. urucurana não ocorre no Caribe. Conhecimento ecológico tradicional e as informações biológicas disponíveis apoiam a proximidade entre B. urucurana (nunca cultivado) e B. orellana (sempre cultivado). As evidências aqui relatadas apoiam fortemente a sugestão de Kuntze (1925), de que Bixa urucurana Willd. seja uma variedade de B. orellana L., identificando, portanto, o ancestral silvestre do urucum cultivado.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank numerous families along the main rivers of Amazonia for information and field support; CT–Amazonia, proc. no. 575588/2008–0, and FAPESP, proc. no. 2012/08307–5, for primary financial support; the Instituto de Desenvolvimento Agropecuário e Florestal Sustentável do Amazonas (IDAM) in Amazonas and the Empresa de Assistência Técnica e Rural (EMATER) in Pará and Rondônia for field support; PAM thanks CNPq for a doctoral scholarship, JL thanks CNPq for a masters scholarship, GD thanks FAPESP for a doctoral scholarship, and EAV and CRC thank CNPq for research fellowships. We thank William Balée for sharing information about Ka’apor use of annatto, Freddy Leal, three anonymous reviewers, and our associate editor for valuable criticism and suggestions on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Literature Cited

  1. Akshatha, V., P. Giridhar, and G. A. Ravishankar. 2011. Morphological diversity in Bixa orellana L. and variations in annatto pigment yield. Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology 86:319–324.Google Scholar
  2. Baer, D. F. 1976. Systematics of the genus Bixa and geography of the cultivated annatto tree. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Botany, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  3. Balée, W. 1994. Footprints of the forest: Ka’apor ethnobotany—The historical ecology of plant utilization by an Amazonian people. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, C. H. 2010. Development of agriculture in prehistoric Mesoamerica: The linguistic evidence. Pages 71–107 in J. E. Staller and M. D. Carrasco, eds., Pre–Columbian foodways: Interdisciplinary approaches to food, culture and markets in ancient Mesoamerica. Springer, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cadogan, L. 1966. Animal and plant cults in Guaraní lore. Revista de Antropología 14:105–124.Google Scholar
  6. Clement, C. R. 1999. 1492 and the loss of Amazonian crop genetic resources. I. The relation between domestication and human population decline. Economic Botany 53:188–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Don, G. 1831. A general history of the dichlamydeous plants 1. J. G. & F. Rivington, London.Google Scholar
  8. Donkin, R. A. 1974. Bixa orellana: “The eternal shrub”. Anthropos 69:3–56.Google Scholar
  9. Ducke, A. 1939. Plantas nouvelles ou peu connues de la region amazonienne. Arquivos do Serviço Florestal 1:36–37.Google Scholar
  10. ——— 1946. Plantas de cultura pré–colombiana na Amazônia brasileira: Notas sobre as espécies ou formas espontâneas que supostamente lhes teriam dado origem. Boletim do Instituto Agronômico do Norte 8:1–24.Google Scholar
  11. Erickson, C. 1995. Archaeological perspectives on ancient landscapes of the Llanos de Mojos in the Bolivian Amazon. Pages 66–95 in P. Stahl, ed., Archaeology in the American tropics: Current analytical methods and applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Franco, C. F. O., E. F. Fabri, M. H. Manfiolli, M. Barreiro Neto, M. N. C. Harder, and N. G. Rucker. 2008. Urucum, sistemas de produção para o Brasil. EMEPA, João Pessoa.Google Scholar
  13. Freitas, F. O. 2004. Uso de material arqueológico no estudo de evolução de plantas—Estudo de caso: Milho Zea mays L. e mandioca—Manihot esculenta Crantz. Revista de Arqueologia 17:33–40.Google Scholar
  14. Gleason, H. A. and B. A. Krukoff. 1934. Bixa excelsa. Phytologia 1:107.Google Scholar
  15. Harlan, J. R. 1992. Crops and man, 2nd edition. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Madison, Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  16. Huber, J. 1910. Bixa arborea. Boletim do Museo Goeldi de Historia Natural e Ethnographia 6:87.Google Scholar
  17. Kuntze, C. 1925. Bixaceae. Page 315 in A. Engler and K. Prantl, eds., Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, 2nd edition, Vol. 21. Engelmann, Leipzig.Google Scholar
  18. Leal, F. and C. M. Clavijo. 2010. Annatto: A natural dye from the tropics. Chronica Horticulturae 50:34–36.Google Scholar
  19. León, J. 2000. Botánica de los cultivos tropicales, 2nd edition. San José, San José, Costa Rica: Editorial Agroamérica, Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura.Google Scholar
  20. Lévi–Strauss, C. 1948. The Nambicuara. Pages 371–379 in J. Steward, ed., Handbook of South American Indians. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 1957. The use of wild plants in tropical South America. Economic Botany 6:252–270.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 1969. The raw and the cooked. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 1987. O uso de plantas silvestres da América do Sul tropical. In: Suma etnológica brasileira, ed., B. G. Ribeiro, 29–46. Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Vozes.Google Scholar
  24. Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species plantarum. Holmiae [Stockholm]: Impensis Laurentii Salvii.Google Scholar
  25. Métraux, A. 1948. Tribes of the eastern slopes of the Bolivian Andes. Pages 465–506 in J. Steward, ed., Handbook of South American Indians. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  26. Meyer, R. S., A. E. DuVal, and H. R. Jensen. 2012. Patterns and processes in crop domestication: An historical review and quantitative analysis of 203 global food crops. New Phytologist 196:29–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morcote–Ríos, G. 2006. Tumbas y plantas antiguas del suroccidente colombiano. Boletín Museo del Oro 54:46–71.Google Scholar
  28. Nimuendajú, C. 1952. The Tukuna. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 45:1–209.Google Scholar
  29. Norton, M. 2008. Sacred gifts, profane pleasures: A history of tobacco and chocolate in the Atlantic World. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Ocampo, R. A. S. 1983. Aspectos agronómicos sobre el cultivo del achiote (Bixa orellana L.). Pages 43–57 in J. P. Arce, ed., Aspectos sobre el achiote y perspectivas para Costa Rica. CATIE, Turrialba, Cartago, Costa Rica.Google Scholar
  31. Pagán–Jiménez, J. R. 2013. Human–plant dynamics in the pre–colonial Antilles: A synthetic update. Pages 391–406 in W. F. Keegan, C. L. Hofman, and R. R. Ramos, eds., The Oxford handbook of Caribbean archaeology. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Patiño, V. M. 1967. Plantas cultivadas y animales domésticos en América Equinoccial, Tomo III: Fibras, medicinas y misceláneas. Imprenta Departamental, Cali, Vale do Cauca, Colombia.Google Scholar
  33. Posey, D. 1985. Indigenous management of tropical forest ecosystems: The case of the Kayapo Indians of the Brazilian Amazon. Agroforestry Systems 3:139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. ——— 1987. Manejo da floresta secundária, capoeiras, campos e cerrados (Kayapó). Pages 173–185 in B. G. Ribeiro, ed., Suma etnológica brasileira. Vozes, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Google Scholar
  35. Rindos, D. 1984. The origins of agriculture: An evolutionary perspective. Academic Press, San Diego, California.Google Scholar
  36. Sauer, C. 1987. As plantas cultivadas na América do Sul tropical. Pages 59–90 in B. G. Ribeiro, ed., Suma etnológica brasileira. Vozes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Google Scholar
  37. Schultes, R. E. 1984. Amazonian cultigens and their northward and westward migrations in pre–Columbian times. Pages 19–38 in D. Stone, ed., Pre–Columbian plant migration. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  38. Solis, R. S. 2006. America’s first city? The case of Late Archaic Caral. Pages 28–66 in W. Isbell and H. Silverman, eds., Andean Archaeology III. Springer, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wagley, C. and E. Galvão. 1948. The Tenetehara. Pages 137–148 in J. Steward, ed., Handbook of South American Indians. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  40. Willdenow, C. L. 1809. Enumeratio Plantarum Horti Regii Botanici Berolinensis: Continens descriptiones omnium vegetabilium in horto dicto cultorum. Taberna libraria Scholae Realis, Berlin.Google Scholar
  41. Wilson, J. 1606. The relation of Master John Wilson of Wansteed in Essex, one of the last ten that returned into England from Wiapoco in Guiana. In: Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his pilgrimes, containing a history of the world in sea voyages and land travels by Englishmen and others, Volume 16, ed., S. Purchas, 188. Glasgow, Scotland: James MacLehose.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Priscila Ambrósio Moreira
    • 1
  • Juliana Lins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gabriel Dequigiovanni
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Ann Veasey
    • 3
  • Charles R. Clement
    • 2
  1. 1.Post–Graduate Program in BotanyInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)ManausBrazil
  2. 2.Coordenação de Tecnologia e InovaçãoINPAManausBrazil
  3. 3.Post–Graduate Program in Genetics and Plant BreedingEscola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz” (ESALQ/USP)PiracicabaBrazil

Personalised recommendations