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Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl.

Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl.

Family

Lauraceae

Synonyms

Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume, Laurus cinnamomum L.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia

Kayu manis.

English

Ceylon cinnamon, true cinnamon.

Indonesia

Kayu manis.

Papua New Guinea

Skin diwai.

Philippines

Cinnamon, kanela.

Cambodia

Che'k tum phka loëng.

Vietnam

Qu[ees] h[oof]i, qu[ees] r[af]nh, qu[ees] Srilanca.

French           

Cannellier de Ceylon.

Geographical Distributions

Cinnamomum verum occurs wild in south-west India, western Sri Lanka and the Tenasserim Hills of Burma (Myanmar). Cinnamon (and cassia) was among the first spices sought after by most European explorers in the 15th and 16th Century. The Portuguese occupying Sri Lanka in 1536 and the Dutch, taking over in 1656, established virtual monopolies on the trade. From a product collected from wild stands, it became a cultivated crop in Sri Lanka around 1770. It was introduced into the Seychelles in 1771, where it easily naturalised and where a sizeable production developed. Cultivation in Java (Indonesia) began in 1825 but, after initial success, declined rapidly. Subsequently, C. verum has been taken to many countries. It is grown in southern India, the Seychelles and in Madagascar, but Sri Lanka continues to dominate the market.

Description

Cinnamomum verum is an evergreen tree which can grow up to 18 m tall. The bole is low branching, measures up to 60 cm in diametre while its buttresses measure 60 cm tall and 70 cm deep, thin and light pinkish-brown. The bark is about 10 mm thick and strongly aromatic. Its bark on young shoots is smooth and pale brown while on mature branches, stems are rough and dark brown or brownish-grey. The oil cells are located in the phloem, oval or round in cross-section. Wood of matured trees varies from light brownish-grey to grey or yellowish-brown, without markings, more or less lustrous and faintly scented.

The leaves are arranged opposite, somewhat variable in form and size and strongly aromatic. The leaf stalk is 1-2 cm long and grooved on upper surface. Its blade is egg-shaped to elliptical, measuring 5-25 cm x 3-10 cm, conspicously 3-veined, or 5-veined and with rounded base. The apex is acuminate, hairless, coriaceous and shiny dark green.

The inflorescence consists of lax axillary or terminal panicles which measure up to 10 cm long or longer. The inflorescence stalk is 5-7 cm long, creamy white and softly hairy. The flowers are small, about 3 mm in diametre, with fetid smell, pale yellow and subtended by small ovate hairy bract. The perianth is 8 mm long, with silky hairs, with short bell-shaped tube and 6 persistent tepals about 3 mm long. The 9 stamens are fertile, exist in 3 whorls, and with 2 small glands at the base of the stamens of the 3rd whorl. The fourth innermost whorl consists of 3 staminodes. The filaments are hairy and stout.  Anthers are 4 or 2-celled. The ovary is superior, 1-celled, with single ovule and short style.

The fruit is a 1-seeded berry, and ellipsoidal to ovoid. It is 1-2 cm long, black when ripens and surrounded by an enlarged perianth at the base. 

Ecology / Cultivation

Cinnamomum verum requires a warm and per-humid climate with a well-distributed annual rainfall of 2000-2500 mm, and average temperature of about 27°C. It grows best at low altitudes, and is usually grown without shade, but being essentially a forest tree, light shade does no harm. The type of soil has a pronounced effect on bark quality. Fine sandy and lateritic gravelly soils rather than rocky and stony substrates are best in Sri Lanka and India, but in the Seychelles and Madagascar more loamy soils are preferred. C. verum is considered susceptible to salinity. A bitter product results from waterlogged and marshy conditions.

Line Drawing / Photograph

Cinnamomum_verum

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  1) Essential Oil

References

1.       Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 13: Spices.

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