Achiote (Bixa orellana) is a type of shrub or small tree originating in the tropical regions of South America. It is also known as aploppas, or urucu.  The achiote tree is the source of the bright red fruit which is harvested for its Annato seeds. The seeds are ground and used as a coloring ingredient in Latin American, Carribean and Asian cuisine. It is also a natural alternative to synthetic food coloring and a substitute for the more expensive saffron.