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Shrub; leaves alternate, simple, ovate; inflorescence a terminal panicle; flowers pale pink; stamens numerous; fruit a globose capsule covered with soft spines, red when young, at maturity dry and brown; seeds covered with with a powdery orange substance. (Image at left photographed at Hacienda Tabi.)
The seeds are covered with a powdery pigment that is widely used as a food coloring or, in some parts of the neotropics, as body or face paint.
Listed as an important source of pollen and/or nectar for bees (Souza Novello 1981).