The objective of this work was to investigate the acquisition of germination capacity and the onset of dormancy in developing seeds of Bixa orellana L. (annatto). Seven stages of development were characterized with regard to morphology, fresh and dry mass and moisture content of the fruits and seeds. Immature seeds of B. orellana did not germinate during early stages of their development. The seeds achieved their maximum germination capacity after the moisture content had declined to around 60%. In this phase the seeds presented maximum dry mass. The onset of dormancy occurred when the seeds exhibited water contents around 10%.
Desiccation; dormancy; tegmen