Cinnamomum zeylanicum is a small, tropical, evergreen tree most noted for its bark, which provides the world with the commonly known spice, cinnamon. Cinnamomum zeylanicum is the scientific name, which refers to the specific species of tree that cinnamon is harvested from. There are many other similar trees that belong to the same family, Lauraceae (Click here to look at other organisms in this family). The common name, cinnamon, is derived from the Hebraic and Arabic term “amomon” which means fragrant spice plant. The name cinnamon is in fact the shortened version of its true common name, Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon is an extinct term for the country Sri Lanka, the native country of Cinnamomum zeylanicum.

Latin is the language used for all scientific names in the science community. The name Cinnamomum zeylanicum means “true cinnamon” in Latin and really is ‘true cinnamon’ as opposed to other species in the genus Cinnamomum. Other cinnamon plants like cassia are not true cinnamon. Click here to learn more about the difference between cassia and true cinnamon.

Top Photos

(left to right)

  1. 1.Leathery, aromatic, veined leaves of Cinnamon tree

  2. 2.Cinnamon buds

Cinnamomum what?


scientific NAME Cinnamomum zeylanicum

common name Cinnamon

Other Names  True Cinnamon, Ceylon Cinnamon

synonyms Cinnamomum verum

Other common names from around the world include cannon, the term Egyptians used to name the spice that they embalmed bodies with and canella, an Italian word meaning “little tube” which accurately describes cinnamon sticks.

Cinnamomum zeylanicum complete classification is as follows...

Domain: Eukarya - Eukarya is one of the three domains of life that includes Eukaryotes, organisms that contain a “true nucleus”. Organisms also have membrane bound organelles like mitochondria. Eukarya includes all of the plants, animals, and fungi.

Kingdom: Plantae - Organisms are capable of performing photosynthesis to acquire nutrients.

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Organisms with flowering structures (flowers).

Class: Magnoliopsida – Organisms are dicotyledons and have two seed leaves, or cotyledons, in the embryo contained in the seed.

Order: Laurales – Organisms are members of the basal group of dicots, meaning that they arise from the base of a stem.

Family: Lauraceae – Organisms are aromatic evergreen trees or shrubs.

Genus: Cinnamomum – Organisms have aromatic oils in their leaves and bark.

Species: Cinnamomum zeylanicum - “True cinnamon”, which is different from other species that belong to the same genus Cinnamomum. (Check out is phylogenetic tree on the next page.) 

C. zeylanicum is native to Sri Lanka, find out more about its habitat here!

Photo by Jaclyn Bero. A close up of Cinnamon quills
Photo by Jaclyn Bero. Cinnamon quills