cinnamon, name for trees and shrubs of the genus Cinnamomum of the family Lauraceae (laurel family). Cinnamon spice comes chiefly from the Sri Lankan cinnamon ( C. zeylanicum ), now cultivated in several tropical regions. It is obtained by drying the central part of the bark and is marketed as stick cinnamon or in powdered form. The waste and other parts are used for oil of cinnamon, a medicine and flavoring. Cassia, cassia bark, or Chinese cinnamon ( C. cassia ) was used in China long before true cinnamon but is now considered an inferior substitute. Cinnamon and cassia (often confused) have been favorite spices since biblical times, used also as perfume and incense. Cinnamon is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Magnoliales, family Lauraceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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