True cinnamon comes from the bark of an evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka and which grows to a height of 8-20 metres. The leaves are petiolate, entire, mid green in colour with the underside being a paler green than the upper side, leathery ovate and up to 18cm in length. Young leaves are paler green with a reddish tinge, the leaves have 3-5 longitudinal veins. The 6-petaled flowers are approximately 3mm in diameter, pale yellowy-white in colour and form panicles of blooms which are 5-7cm in length. Flowers give way to fleshy fruits which are ovoid in shape, black in colour when ripe and 1.5-2 cm in length.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material, being largely used in the preparation of some kinds of desserts, chocolate, spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa and liqueurs. In the Middle East, it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States, cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavors cereals, bread-based dishes, and fruits, especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes.