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(Cinnamomum verum)
Cinnamon Tree

Forgiveness of Injuries

Common Names



While Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon) is sometimes considered to be "true cinnamon", most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as "cassia" to distinguish them from "true cinnamon."

Cassia cinnamon is primarily produced in Indonesia and has the stronger smell and flavor of the two varieties and is used in most commercial products. The more expensive Ceylon cinnamon, most of which is still produced in Sri Lanka, has a milder, sweeter flavor popular for both baking and flavoring coffee or hot chocolate.   Cinnamon is native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Malabar Coast of India, and Burma.

When a cinnamon tree is around two years old, cultivators coppice, or cut back, the plant to the size of a stump and cover it with soil. This technique causes it to grow like a bush, with new shoots emerging out of the sides by the following year. Once cut, the shoots are stripped of their bark and the peels are set out to dry in the sun.  As this happens, the bark naturally curls into quills (sticks).

The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde.

True cinnamon has been demonstrated to have many health benefits and medicinal qualities.

Cinnamon has been prized throughout history.  It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC and used as an embalming agent and other perfumery.  Cinnamon was so highly prized that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god - an inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus.

In ancient Greece, the mythical phoenix was reputed to build its nest from cinnamon and cassia.  And another bird, long believed to be real, the Cinnamalogus or Cinnibird, was for a long time included in bestiaries as the natural explanation for acquiring cinnamon.  

According to Greek writers like Pliny the Elder and Herodotus, the most valuable cinnamon was that which was gathered by the Cinnamologus. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History says that these giants birds build their nests only from sticks of cinnamon that they gather from cinnamon trees. Since their nests are so high up in the trees or cliff faces and are so delicate, the only way to get the cinnamon down is to throw lead balls up at the nests to knock the cinnamon sticks loose.


Another recommended technique is to sacrifice oxen and other large animals cutting them into large pieces and leaving them at the base of the cliff where the Cinnamologus build their nests, enticing the birds to carry them back up. The nests can’t support the weight of the prey and fall, allowing gatherers to collect the cinnamon.

The term "cinnamon words" is now used to describe rare usages of words amongst writers and is derived from author Ray Bradbury's favorite word, "cinnamon" which he describes as reminding him of his grandmother's spice pantry.  His uncommon use of the word in his own works includes descriptions of dusty roads and red-brown hills to the dark Egyptian tomb that “breathed out a sick exhalation of paprika, cinnamon and powdered camel dung.”

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