Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) is a small evergreen tree 10–15 metres (32.8–49.2 feet) tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, and is native to Sri Lanka.
The leaves are ovate-oblong in shape, 7–18 cm (2.75–7.1 inches) long. The flowers, which are arranged in panicles, have a greenish color, and have a distinct odor. The fruit is a purple one-centimeter berry containing a single seed.
Its flavor is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in colour and develops resinous compounds. Chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.
The name cinnamon comes from Greek kinnámōmon, itself ultimately from Phoenician. The botanical name for the spice—Cinnamomum zeylanicum—is derived from Sri Lanka’s former (colonial) name, Ceylon.
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