Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and south west of India, it is now cultivated in all tropical regions of the world including the Caribbean. It was already known in ancient times by the Greeks and Romans. Cinnamon was imported into Europe in the 13th century by Venetian merchants. Until the 18th century it was one of the most popular spices for its stimulating function in digestion, breathing and blood circulation.
It is introduced to the West Indies in the 19th century and is cultivated in many gardens but also occurs in the wild in humid temperate zones. It reproduces by seeds and blooms from May to November. Today in the Caribbean, cinnamon is also called cinnamon wood.
There are two main varieties of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon (see photo above) from its scientific name Cinnamomum verum, which is found in Martinique and in European dishes and Chinese cinnamon (see opposite photo below) of its scientific name Cinnamomum cassia which is that which is marketed in the United States.
The cinnamon tree is a small tree up to 5 to 10 meters with very aromatic bark, cinnamon has opposite leaves, oblong, leathery, strongly ribbed. Their upper surface is dark green and shiny, while the underside is duller. The fruit is elliptical and is dry or slightly fleshy.
Exploited, bark comes in small rolls naturally folded over themselves. The bark of the cinnamon gives the famous cinnamon sticks, and these sticks that the powder is reduced to finer uses.
Its evergreen leaves are bright green, oblong and measure 7 to 18 cm long. Its flowers have a greenish color and a rather unpleasant odor.
The fruit of the cinnamon is a 1 cm diameter bay club-shaped and purple.
The bark is harvested in the rainy season. It can become invasive in some areas.
This is a condiment, an antibacterial, antifungal (treatment against fungal infections). It promotes the arrival of the menses.
It is also recommended for digestive disorders (dyspepsia), lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting, toothache, cold, diarrhea, diabetes.
Its antioxidant power is among the most powerful foods (highly reactive molecules involved in the development of cardiovascular illnesses, some cancers and other diseases related to aging).
Daily use of cinnamon strengthen the immune system and protect the body against bacteria.
Cinnamon is found in many West Indian dishes, especially sweets, pastries. It is also used in the design of cosmetics. It is present in particular in preparing the chocolat de communion (hot chocolate thickened drank for some celebrations locally) (cf. photo opposite).