the lipstick tree and its red prickly pods

These red prickly pods clustered on a stem caught my attention amongst the blossoms at the market.

Their sign read "lipstick plant".

I was intrigued,

not to mention part of me was waiting for them to open their "mouths" and start singing. It was all I could do to not add googly eyes and wait for this chorus to serenade me.

As it turns out this is the pod or fruit of the lipstick tree, a tropical tree or bush, also known as Bixa orellana, or Annatto.

The seeds are crushed and used as a natural coloring in many foods, like cheeses, butter, margarine, candy, as well as household products and of course cosmetics like lipstick.

The annatto paste has long been used by South American Indians as a decorative body paint, especially for the lips.

So much to be learned from one little stem.