Sheet of cinnamon collected by Carl Peter Thunberg in 1777.
Sheet of cinnamon collected by Carl Peter Thunberg in 1777.

Cinnamon is made of bark

Cinnamon trees belong to the family Lauraceae and is related to laurel and avocado. The spice cinnamon is made from the inner bark from the tree's branches. There are more than a hundred species of cinnamon and all have more or less aromatic bark.

True cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum, mainly grows in Sri Lanka and is considered to have the finest flavour. The Latin name verum can be translated to "the real one." True cinnamon is recognized by its thin bark.

Most spice jars at grocery stores contain Indonesian cinnamon, also known as cassia. It has a different flavour than true cinnamon. Indonesian cinnamon/cassia has a hard and thick bark, in one single layer.

Thunberg and cinnamon

The Bergius Herbarium from 18th century resides in the Bergius Botanic Garden. It includes sheets from plant collectors, such as Linnaeus and his pupils. Here are a few sheets of cinnamon collected by Carl Peter Thunberg. He was a disciple of Linnaeus and travelled on a Dutch mission around the world to collect plants to botanical gardens. Thunberg visited Sri Lanka in 1777. In Sri Lanka, he was assigned to investigate a number of bundles of cinnamon. True cinnamon he called Laurus cinnamomum.

Thunberg singled out ten kinds of cinnamon. Four of these were variants of true cinnamon. Honey cinnamon was the finest, then came Nai currundu – snake cinnamon.

Christmas exhibition in the Edvard Anderson Conservatory

Do you want to see a true cinnamon tree? Visit the exhibition Christmas in the conservatory in the Bergius Botanic Garden.