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Cinnamomum verum: Spicy bark

Cultivated today in many tropical countries, the true cinnamon tree is a native of southwest India and Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, which is why it is also known as Ceylon cinnamon. While it can grow as high as 20 meters, trees on cinnamon plantations are kept short, as the bark used as a spice is taken from two-year-old branches.

To harvest cinnamon, the young branches are cut off and the bark removed. These pieces of bark, each about a meter long, are wrapped in mats and allowed to ferment overnight before the outer layers are removed and dried. You can recognize genuine cinnamon by its double-rolled shape.

Cinnamon is used around the world to flavor sweets and liqueurs. Aromatic cinnamon oil is also extracted from its leaves and bark, and used in making perfume and soaps. It’s also used as an ingredient in medicines for digestive troubles and lack of appetite.

Cinnamon was already familiar to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who first acquired the fragrant, curly bark from Phoenician traders. Known originally as kinnamomon, the Romans called it Cinnamomum, now the scientific name of the genus.

Audio file download
Cinnamomum verum: Spicy bark (MP3, 534 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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