cinnamon, (Cinnamomum verum), also called Ceylon cinnamon, bushy evergreen tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae) and the spice derived from its bark. Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), the neighbouring Malabar Coast of India, and Myanmar (Burma) and is also cultivated in South America and the West Indies. The spice, consisting of the dried inner bark, is brown in colour and has a delicately fragrant aroma and a warm sweet flavour. Cinnamon is used to flavour a variety of foods, from confections to curries to beverages, and is popular in bakery goods in many places. Essential oil is distilled from the bark fragments for use in food, liqueur, perfume, and drugs.
Cinnamon was once more valuable than gold. In Egypt it was sought for embalming and religious practices. In medieval Europe it was used for religious rites and as a flavouring. Later it was the most profitable spice in the Dutch East India Company trade. Various related species are also cultivated as a source of cinnamon spice, including Chinese cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), Vietnamese, or Saigon, cinnamon (C. loureiroi), Indonesian cinnamon (C. burmannii), and Malabar cinnamon (C. citriodorum).