cinnamon, name for trees and shrubs of the genus Cinnamomum of the family Lauraceae (laurel family). True cinnamon spice comes from the Ceylon or Sri Lanka cinnamon ( C. verum or 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 or Chinese cinnamon ( C. cassia ) was used in China long before true cinnamon. Though considered an inferior substitute for true cinnamon, the spice and oil derived from its bark and that of the related Saigon cinnamon ( C. loureiroi ) are more commonly sold as cinnamon than spice derived from C. verum bark, which is more delicately flavored. 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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