Canelo: Characteristics, Habitat, Properties, Cultivation

The cinnamon tree or cinnamon tree ( Cinnamomum verum ) is a low-growing evergreen tree that belongs to the Lauraceae family. Native to Sri Lanka, it is a very aromatic species of which its inner bark is marketed, rubbing and peeling its branches.

The cinnamon tree grows in humid tropical regions, being able to reach 10-15 m in height. Its leaves are leathery and bright green, and the small yellowish-white or greenish flowers are grouped in panicles.

Cinnamomum verum. Source: Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner [Public domain]

The essential oil of cinnamon is extracted from its leaves and a medicinal oil from its fruits. Also, from its bark, cinnamon is obtained, one of the most popular and commercialized spices since ancient times.

It is a very appreciated tree for obtaining aromatic spices and essential oils, which also has certain antibiotic, digestive and expectorant medicinal properties. It is traditionally used on a large scale in natural medicine, bakery, confectionery, confectionery and as a flavoring agent.

Article index

  • one

    General characteristics

    • 1.1


    • 1.2


    • 1.3


    • 1.4


    • 1.5

      Chemical composition

    • 1.6

      Nutritional value per 100 g

  • two


    • 2.1


  • 3

    Habitat and distribution

  • 4

    Properties (edit)

  • 5


    • 5.1


    • 5.2


    • 5.3


    • 5.4


    • 5.5


  • 6


    • 6.1


    • 6.2


  • 7

    Plagues and diseases

  • 8


General characteristics


Perennial and evergreen arboreal plant of medium size with numerous ramifications that wildly reaches 15-20 m and if cultivated it reaches 10 m in height. The branches are generally pendulous and the stem, woody in consistency, has a particularly smooth, aromatic and grayish-brown bark.


The leaves have variable sizes and shapes, oval, elliptical or lanceolate, leathery, aromatic, bright green in color and with a short petiole. They are usually 8-20 cm long and 5-10 cm wide, with entire margins and evident veins along the blade.


The hermaphroditic 3 mm diameter yellowish-white or creamy-white flowers are grouped in axillary or terminal panicles. The androecium and the bicarpellar gynoecium are located on the same flower, are tomentose in appearance and are made up of six free tepals.

Cinnamomum verum flowers. Source:


The fruit is an ellipsoidal or ovoid drupe 1.5 to 2 cm long, purple-black in color with a single brown seed. Flowering usually occurs during the month of January, while the fruits ripen about six months later.

Chemical composition

The Cinnamomum verum species contains 2-4% aromatic essential oils that give it its characteristic smell. The highest concentration of metabolites is made up of cinnamaldehyde (60-75%), cinnamic alcohol, benzaldehyde, caryophyllene, cymene, cuminaldehyde, eugenol and pinene.

To a lesser extent, there are hydroxycinnamic and o-methoxycinnamic aldehydes, as well as trans-cinnamic acid and cinnamic acetate. Also the terpenes linalol and diterpene, mucilages, tannins, oligomeric and polymeric proanthocyanidins, carbohydrates and some traces of coumarin.

The characteristic aroma of the species belonging to the genus Cinnamomum is essentially provided by cinnamaldehyde. In this regard, the C. verum species has a higher eugenol content that gives it its intense and pungent flavor.

Other components are vitamins C, niacin, thiamine, p-cummeric ascorbic and palmitic acid, coumarins and fibers. In addition, the mineral elements boron, calcium, chlorine, cobalt, copper, strontium, phosphorus, iron, iodine, manganese, nickel, potassium, lead, sodium and zinc.

Nutritional value per 100 g

– Energy: 240-250 kcal

– Carbohydrates: 75-85 mg

– Sugars: 2.10-2.20 gr

– Dietary fiber: 50-55 gr

– Proteins: 1-2 gr

– Water: 10-11 gr

– Vitamin A (retinol): 15 μg (2%)

– Vitamin B 1 (thiamine): 0.020-0.025 mg (2%)

– Vit. B 2 (riboflavin): 0.040-0.045 mg (3%)

– Vit. B 3 (niacin): 1,330-1,335 mg (9%)

– Vitamin B 6 : 0.155-0.165 mg (12%)

– Vitamin C: 3.8 mg (6%)

– Vit. E: 2.30-2.35 mg (15%)

– Vit. K: 31.2-31.5 μg (30%)

– Calcium: 1002 mg (100%)

– Iron: 8.32 mg (67%)

– Magnesium: 60 mg (16%)

– Phosphorus: 64 mg (9%)

– Potassium: 431 mg (9%)

– Sodium: 10 mg (1%)

– Zinc: 1.83 mg (18%)

Bark of Cinnamomum verum. Source: Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner [Public domain]


– Kingdom: Plantae

– Division: Magnoliophyta

– Class: Magnoliopsida

– Order: Laurales

– Family: Lauraceae

– Genus: Cinnamomum

– Species: Cinnamomum verum J. Presl.


Cinnamomum : the name of the genus comes from the Greek word “kinnamon” or “kinnamomon”, which means “sweet wood”. In turn, the Greek word derives from the Hebrew «quinamom», which comes from the Malay term «kayu manis», which also means «sweet wood».

verum:  the specific adjective refers to the authentic species from Ceylon, the most commercialized and of the best quality.

– Cinnamon: the common name comes from the French term «cannelle», diminutive of «canne» which means cane or tube.

Habitat and distribution

The Cinnamomum verum species is native to South Asia, wild-sourced in Sri Lanka, and commercially cultivated in India. It is a crop adapted to rainy climates, deep soils with a sandy-loam texture, well drained and with a high content of organic matter.

It requires a humid and warm environment, 0-600 meters above sea level, an average temperature of 24-30 ºC and precipitation of 2,000 – 4,000 mm per year, well distributed throughout the year. The humid conditions near the sea and the sea breeze are conducive to the good development of the plant.

Wildly, it develops in the evergreen tropical forests from sea level to 1,800 meters above sea level. Under cultivation, it effectively thrives between 300-350 meters above sea level, up to 600 meters above sea level.

Soils with a sandy-loam texture with a high content of organic matter favor the development of a fragrant and sweet crust. A very heavy soil, with poor drainage, tends to accumulate moisture that limits the growth of the plant and consequently its quality.

Cinnamon is originally from Sri Lanka, this region being the largest producer and exporter of the best quality bark and oil. This species initially came to the Middle East and Europe brought by travelers through the Silk Road.

At the beginning of the 19th centuries it was introduced to the island of Java in Indonesia, where it was cultivated commercially. Later it went to Southwest Asia, in India, Madagascar, southern China and the Seychelles Islands, as well as some tropical countries, including Brazil.

Cinnamomum verum leaves. Source: Forest & Kim Starr [CC BY 3.0 (]

Properties (edit)

Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of the cinnamon tree ( Cinnamomum verum ) that is extracted through a precise cut. This product is left to dry in the shade for 4-5 days until it curls up and acquires a reddish-brown color.

The twisted pieces of bark are cut into commercial sizes and packed for export worldwide. Likewise, cinnamon is sold in powder form, being widely used in pastry and confectionery products.

Cinnamon has been used since ancient times as a spice or condiment to preserve or add flavor to food. It is also used in traditional medicine to alleviate a wide variety of disorders and diseases. It is a basic ingredient in perfumery.

On the other hand, the essential oil that is extracted from the bark and leaves is used in the food industry as a flavoring agent. In addition, it is a basic ingredient for beverages, preserves, sweets and desserts, being used for its properties in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.

The oil that is extracted from the leaves has approximately 89% eugenol, which provides antiseptic and antioxidant properties. While the oil obtained from the bark contains 65% cinnamaldehyde with a vasodilator, antibacterial, cytotoxic and diabetic regulating effect.

For the harvest of cinnamon, the branches are cut from the base, in order to promote their sprouting. Harvesting begins from the fourth to fifth year of the implantation of the crop, when the branches have a diameter of 2-2.5 cm.

The leaves collected for the extraction of the oil are collected together with the young shoots once or twice a year. This material is left to dry in the shade for 24 hours before proceeding to the distillation process.

Cinnamon bark rolls. Source:



In traditional medicine, cinnamon has been used thanks to its therapeutic properties by different cultures over time. Its use is indicated for the treatment of different pathologies, including gastrointestinal discomforts, urinary infections and symptoms related to flu and colds.

In addition, its regular intake has shown that it is an ideal complement to regulate blood glucose in people with diabetes. It is an excellent stomach tonic, since it favors the functioning of the digestive system by facilitating the expulsion of gases and controls diarrhea.

In case of dizziness, the ingestion of a cinnamon-based infusion can relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. In addition, it is an effective muscle relaxant due to the content of cinnamyl and eugenol with an anti-inflammatory effect and an inhibitory action on muscle pain.

In rural areas, cinnamon is used as a sleeping pill to calm and put children to sleep when their parents work in the fields. Likewise, it is used as a sedative and healing of the taste buds when some type of very hot food is consumed.

It has antibacterial and antifungal properties but its consumption in high doses can alter the nerves in sensitive people. The best way to ingest this spice is by adding it to drinks such as tea, coffee, chocolate, milk, and whole wheat toast.


As a condiment or spice, cinnamon is used to cook atoles, sweets, compotes, rice, fruit salads, pasta or meats. In the food industry, essential oil is used as a preservative and flavoring, for candies, chewing gums, juices and alcoholic beverages.

Pastry is one of the main uses of cinnamon. Source:


At an industrial level, cinnamon is used thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Being used as an ingredient in the preparation of products related to oral hygiene, such as toothpastes or toothpastes, and mouthwashes.


In the pharmaceutical industry, the essential oil of cinnamon is used to provide a pleasant flavor to syrups for colds or colds. Likewise, it is used as an antibiotic and flavoring ingredient for the manufacture of vaporizers used in nasal therapies.


In perfumery it is used to make perfumes, colognes, soaps, rinses or shampoos due to its pleasant and permanent aroma. On the other hand, it is used as an ingredient for the manufacture of flavorings and disinfectants for household cleaning.



The cinnamon tree is propagated mainly by seeds and occasionally through tender shoots or division of the roots. The use of phytohormones or growth regulators is common to induce rooting of roots and cuttings, as well as to improve their branching.

The seeds are selected from mature fruits of mother plants with excellent morphological characteristics, free from pests and diseases, and good organoleptic qualities. Using a substrate rich in organic matter and an average sand content, the seeds take 2-3 weeks to germinate.

Sowing is carried out during the months of June-July, at four months when the seedlings reach 15 cm in height and are ready to transplant. The transplant is carried out in polyethylene bags or pots with fertile and humid substrate, after 10-12 months they will be ready to sow in the field.

Young leaves of Cinnamomum verum. Source: NickCT [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]


The cultivation of cinnamon is not demanding in relation to the type of soil, but it prefers sandy and well-drained soils. In fact, it is susceptible to heavy soils that retain water and present slow drainage.

The root system develops with better vigor in soils with a sandy-loam texture, which must be kept humid without becoming waterlogged. However, the irrigation schedule should be determined by factors such as soil texture, lighting, temperature, time of year, and age of the plant.

In wild conditions, the cinnamon tree grows in forest environments, although it also grows under full sun exposure. Despite being a moderately demanding species in terms of its lighting needs, it can be located in the shade or in an open place.

It is a rustic plant that supports minimum temperature ranges characteristic of zone 10, that is, it will tolerate minimum temperatures of -1 ° C. In fact, it resists occasional frosts, withstands moderate winds and has a medium growth rate under optimal conditions.

Plagues and diseases

The Cinnamomum verum species can be attacked by the Lepidopterans known as the common mime ( Chilasa clytia ) and the leaf miner ( Conopomorpha civica ). As diseases, it can be infected by the fungi that cause pestalotiopsis ( Pestalotiopsis palmarum ), blight or rot ( Diplodia spp .) And leaf spots ( Colletotrichum gloeosporioides ).


  1. Accame, MEC (2009). Therapeutic activity of cinnamon bark. Current Drug Outlook, 33 (325), 733.
  2. Cinnamomum verum. (2019). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Recovered at:
  3. The cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum verum) (2018) El Blog de La Tabla. Recovered in:
  4. Joy, PP, Thomas, J., & Samuel, M. (1998). Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum Presl) for flavor and fragrance. Pafai Journal, 20 (2), 37-42.
  5. Properties of Cinnamomum verum (2019) Botanical On-line. Recovered at:
  6. Puccio, P. (2003) © Monaco Nature Encyclopedia. Cinnamomum verum. Recovered at:

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