Cinnamon is a tall, evergreen tree. Native to Sri Lanka and India, it is also cultivated in Mexico and other tropical and semi-tropical countries.
The flowers are small and pale yellow, blooming on long, elegant stems. The young leaves are reddish, turning to a dark green as they mature. The leaves are about 7 inches long, and form a canopy over the limbs. With care, rich soil and frequent watering, trees can live up to 50 years or longer.
Some varieties of cinnamon can survive in colder climates if given protection against frost and low temperatures. Propagation is by mature seeds or soft-wood cuttings.
Imagine entering the houses of ancient Rome’s wealthy families: copper and golden bowls were filled to the brim with cinnamon bark and ground cinnamon. For cinnamon was the rich man’s herb. Only the rich and powerful bathed in cinnamon-scented waters. The bark was burned to perfume the halls of royalty. Brides sprinkled the crushed bark in their chambers in hopes the gods of fertility would visit them soon.
Medicinal: Herbalists recommend cinnamon tea to aid digestion and relieve nausea. A simple drink can be made using a cinnamon stick and a few ounces of boiling water. Stir the water with the stick and drink while hot.
Culinary: Cinnamon’s flavor is pungent and slightly sweet. The part of the plant used is the inner bark. As it dries, it curls into sticks or quills. These are used whole or ground.
Crafts: For a simple but deliciously smelling potpourri, sprinkle a little ground cinnamon on rose petals as they dry in a glass dish or bowl. You can also tie 6 to 8 cinnamon sticks together with ribbon and hang them inside a closet or locker. What a fragrance !
Blessed be, sweet ones.
~ Meadow Walker
Image courtesy of fao.org