In ancient times the most precious spice export of Sri Lanka has been the Ceylon cinnamon. Cinnamon known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum has many everyday uses. Every part of the tree, namely, bark, leaves, buds, flowers, fruits, wood, and roots are being used.

The genus Cinnamonum

The genus Cinnamonum Schaeffer is a large genus having more than 250 species, distributed in south and south-east Asia, China and Australia. Cinnamon and Cassia are the two oldest known spices of the genusCinnamoum used by mankind and are the only commercially important ones. Cinnamon (Cinnamonum.zeylanicum Blume) is the “true cinnamon” of commerce. Other species- Cassia sometimes called “bastard cinnamon” is obtained from various sources like Chinese cassia (C.aromaticum, syn.Cassia) Indonesian cassia/Padang cassia or korintje ( C.burmanii), Saigon cassia or Vietnam cassia ( C.cassia or earlier identified as (C.loureirii) and Indian cassia ( C.tamala).

Cinnamon tree indigenous to Ceylon

The cinnamon tree originally grew wild on the island of Ceylon (a former name of Sri Lanka). Therefore, it came to be known as Ceylon cinnamon. Cinnamon is botanically identified as Cinnamonum.zeylanicumBlume. Sri Lanka produces the largest quantity and best quality of true cinnamon. India Seychelles and Madagascar (Malagasay Republic) are the other cinnamon producing countries.

Cinnamon from Ceylon was first introduced to India in 1798 by Mr Murdock Brown who was then Superintendent of the British East India Company. The oldest Indian plantation of Ceylon cinnamon was the Anjarakandy Estate in the Kannur District of Kerala which still exists. Ceylon cinnamon was cultivated in South India, in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu and the planting material was introduced by European settlers from Ceylon. The cultivation of Ceylon cinnamon introduced to several other countries including Brazil, Borneo, Colombia, Comoros islands, Dominica, Fiji, French Polynesia, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Java, Madagascar, Malaysia, Martinique, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Réunion, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Sumatra, Tanzania, Guyana, and Uganda.

Cinnamon tree | source

However, Ceylon cinnamon has remarkable features like its colour, flavour and aroma because of the particular soil and climatic conditions which is extremely unique to the country.

Source: Lanka Kurundu [Title in English Ceylon Cinnamon]

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