Species-Cinnamomum zealanicum Blum.

General Description

The Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon, is the dried bark ofCinnamomumzealanicum,belongs to the familyLauraceae. It is indigenous to Sri Lanka.Cinnamomumzealanicumis an evergreenperenialplant with spirally arranged, broad laminated dark green leaves having palmate venation.

Under natural conditions, the plant grows to a height of 10 - 15m with the girth of 30-50cm. When coppiced from time to time it could be maintained as bush of 2-2.5m height with multiple stems arising from its base. The flowers are small, creamy and inconspicuous developing into dark purple ovoid one seeded berries, about 1.5 - 2.5cm long.

In Sri Lanka, cinnamon seems to have originated in the central hills where several species of cinnamon occur sporadically in places such as Kandy,Matale,BelihullOya,Haputaleand theSinharajaforest range. Although cinnamon cultivation is presently concentrated along the coastal belt stretching along fromKalutharatoMathara, it has also made inroads to the inland ofKalutara,Ambalangoda,MataraandRatnapura. The extent under cinnamon in Sri Lanka is 25,500ha. Although, the bulk of cinnamon plantations are about 70 - 80 years old, the size of holdings has been diminishing and only about 5-10% of the plantations are of sizeable extent ranging from 8 - 10ha.

SKY 3 Impex
Cinnamon Plantation
Agronomic Requirements

Cinnamon is a hardy plant which can grow well in almost all types of soils under a wide verity of tropical conditions. In Sri Lanka it is cultivated under varying conditions ranging from semi-dry to wet zone conditions and soils varying from silver sand to loamy and lateritic to gravelly soils of Galle,MataraKalutra, andRathnapuraDistricts. The most suitable temperature is between 250C and 300C. Rainfall should be in the region of 1,875 - 3,750 mm. Generally, cinnamon does not thrive in the drier parts of the low-country. It is found as a forest tree at 300 - 350m above sea level.

The quality of bark is greatly influenced by the soil and factors. The best quality cinnamon is produced on whitesilicacioussandy soils like the 'silver sands' ofNegomboDistrict. Yield is higher in order soils but quality is coarser than in sandy soils.

Recommended Varities

There are eight cinnamon species in Sri Lanka. Among them onlyCinnamomumzealanicumis grown commercially. Currently ten cinnamon selections have been identified and those selections are under evaluation in different agro climatic zones.


Propagation of cinnamon is by seeds, rooted cuttings and air layering. The possibility of using plant tissue culture has been established but there is no information about the adoption of tissue culture technology for commercial propagation of cinnamon so far.

Seed propagation

The most widely adopted method is seed propagation. There are three different methods adopted in seed propagation namely:

  • Directsowing of seeds in the field;
  • Transplanting of nursery raised plants or root ball method
  • Transplanting seedlings raised in polythene bags.
Direct seeding method

The area for planting cinnamon is cleared and 30cmx30cmx30cm pits are dug at a spacing of 1.2m x 1.2m. They are then filled with top soil and 10 to 15 seeds are dibbled in each pit.

Nursery or root ball method

Raised nursery beds 1m.wide and of a convenient length are prepared. Seeds are planted 20cm. apart in rows and 10cm.apart within a row. Planting holes of about 4cm.diameter and 4-8cm depth are prepared using a peg. Then these holes are and filled with sand or top soil and 7-10 seeds are sown in each hole and covered with a thin layer of soil.

The beds are shaded with coconut leaf or polythene and watered daily. Seeds start to germinate within 15-20 days. When the seedlings reach a height of about 12cm. the shade is removed. After the seedlings are three to four months old weaker ones are removed leaving three to four the healthier ones in a hole. Eight to ten months old seedlings can be planted in the field. Before seedlings are removed, the nursery beds should be watered thoroughly. Then the seedlings are removed from the bed covered with a ball of soil without damaging the root system. These soil balls with three to four seedlings can be transported to the field for planting. This method is very common among farmers.

Raising seedlings in polythene bags

Cinnamon seedlings are raised in 10cmx 20cm polythene bags filled with a 1:1 mixture of top soil and cow dung. Five to seven seeds are sown in a bag and after three to four months weaker seedlings are removed leaving best three ones in a bag. Plants can be transplanted in the field after eight to ten months.

Rooted cuttings and Air layering

Cinnamon can be propagated by semi hard wood single node cuttings or by layering. Single node cuttings are removed from the selected mother plants and planted in polythene bags of 10cmx20cm filled with top soil. Cuttings should be put in water immediately or dipped in a rooted hormone. One cutting should be placed in each polythene bag and kept in a shaded place. The cuttings are to be watered regularly to maintain adequate moisture. Well rooted cuttings can be planted after 10-12 months.

Air layering of cinnamon is done on semi hardwood shoots. A ring of bark is removed from the shoot and a rooting hormone is applied on the portion where the bark is removed. Moist coir dust is applied where the hormone is applied and wrapped with a sheet of polythene 20 cm length. Rooting takes place in between 40-60days.Then the air layers are separated from the main plant bagged in polythene bags filled with mixture of soil and coir dust. These rooted cuttings maintained in a shaded place and watered regularly can be transplanted in the field.

Field Planting and Spacing

Cinnamon can be easily propagated by seeds and it also can be propagated through stem cuttings and layering. Prior to field planting, seeds are sawn in polythene bags of 12.5 cm x 20.0 cm (5'' x 8'') and thickness of 250gauge filled with good potting mixture containing equal parts of top soil, well decomposed cow dung, coarse sand and coir dust. Five vigorous seedlings should be retained in each bag after thinning out the weak ones. Plants will be ready for planting in 4 - 6 months.

Plant Spacing Number of Bushes/ha Amount of fertilizer(g)/ Bush/Season
1.2 x 0.6 m (4'x2')
1.2 x 0.9 m (4'x3')
1.2 x 1.2 m (4'x4')

Field planting is practiced with the spacing of 120 cm x 120 cm (4' x 4') and 120 cm x 90 cm (4' x 3') However, it has been revealed through the researches that closer spacing of 120 cm x 60 cm (4' x 2') with 3 plants per point and 90 cm x 60 cm (3' x 2') with 2 plants per point will give higher yield at early age of the plantation. At the rate of three plants per point 42,000 seedlings are required for one hectare of land.

Planting holes should be prepared with the minimum size of 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm (1' x 1' x1'). Field planting early in the rainy season is good for establishment. Well-decomposed organic manure mixed with topsoil is suitable to fill the planting hole.

Training and Pruning of Plants

Training of cinnamon plants is important to get straight sticks. When plants are 1.5 - 2.0 years old, lower lateral branches and leaves of 30 - 45 cm from the ground level should be removed. This will facilitate upward growth of healthy shoots.


The following fertilizer mixture and rates are currently recommended.

Components Parts by weight Nutrients in the Mixture
Urea (46% N) Rock
Phosphate (28% P2O5)
Muriateof Potash (60% K2O)
23 % N
7 % P2O5
15 % K2O

The fertilizers may be applied in two equal split doses at the commencement of the rains duringYalaandMahaseasons. Fertilizer should be applied when the soil is moist at a 50cm radius around the bush or between the rows. After application, fertilizer should be mixed with soil. When there are symptoms of magnesium deficiency before applying fertilizer mixture, the application of Dolomite at the rate of 500kg/ha/year is recommended. Fertilizer requirement also vary according to the age of the plantation and yield potential


Changing of the bark colour intobrown, it indicates the enough maturity of stems harvesting. New cinnamon seedling will attain maturity in about 2 to 2 years of age and the other shoots emerged after harvesting will attain the maturity in 1 years time. In a well managed plantation, harvesting could be done twice in a year.


After been removed tops and branches, Harvested sticks are carried to the peeling shed. First outer corky tissues are scraped, and then peelers rub a brass rod for bark to be loosened from hard wood. Then Peeling is done with a special small round knife. Cinnamon barks are joined together by overlaps and hollow of which has been filled with smaller pieces, to form 106.7cm (42in) long cinnamon quills. Quills are air drying indoors for about 4 - 7 days.

Yield varies widely according to the age of the plantation and adopted management practices. However the identified present average annual yield is about 470 kg of quills/ha.

Products of Cinnamon
Cinnamon Quills (Full tubes)

Scraped peel of the inner bark of mature cinnamon stems first dried in the sun (not direct sun) to curl and join together by overlaps, the hollow of which has been filled with small pieces of peeled cinnamon to form length of 105050 mm and thereafter dried in the sun, if necessary after air curing.

Quills 4C Quills 4M Quills 5C Quills 5C Special Quills 5M Quills ALBA Quills H1
Cinnamon Quillings(broken tubes)

Broken pieces below 200 mm in length (other than quills cut in specified short length) and splits of varying sizes of all grades of cinnamon quills which may include quantities of chips and featherings as specified.


Cinnamon Featherings

Pieces of inner bark, obtained by peeling and/ or scraping the bark of small twigs and stalks of cinnamon shoots, which may include a quantity of chips as specified.

Cinnamon Chips

Dried bark of unpeelable cinnamon stems, branches and trimmings inclusive of the outer bark, which has been obtained by chipping or scraping.

Ground Cinnamon

Powder obtained by grinding cinnamon of the typed considered in this International Standard, excluding all additives.

Whole Cinnamon
  • All commercial forms of cinnamon except cinnamon powder.
  • Classification for quills (ISO 6535:1997) (SLS 81:2000)
  • Quills are graded on the basis of the diameter of the quill and the level of foxing.
designation of grades and qualities
of quills
of whole quills (1050mm) per kg
Extent of
% max2
length of quills in a bale mm
Pieces of
tube and broken pieces of the same quality per bale max
% (m/m)
Alba 6 45 Nil 200 1
C 0000special
C 00000
C 0000
C 000
C 0
200 1
M 00000special
M 00000
M 0000
200 2
H 1
H 2
H 3

The occurrence of reddish-brown patches on the surface of the quills, which may become dark brown with time. Foxing can be;

  • (a)superficial patches ("malkorahedi")-appearing on the surface of thequils
  • (b)heavy patches ("korahedi")-resulting in damage to the surface of the quills and making the quills uneven

A package of anyone particular grade of quills wrapped in suitable material for export purposes.

Quality Requirements

The cinnamon is sold generally as quills. In addition to this, cinnamon is also exported as quislings, featherings and chips. The quills shall be of light browncolourand shall be well formed and well dried. The occurrence of reddish brown patches on the quills which may become dark - brown with time is known as foxing.

These are defects and the value of quills gets depreciated depending on the amount of foxing:

Commercial Specifications of Cinnamon

Pale brown to slightly reddishcolour
Ground cinnamon - yellowish to reddish brown incolour
Odour Characteristic fresh aroma
Flavour Delicate and sweet flavor characteristic to Ceylon cinnamon. It shall be free from foreign flavor. Including mustiness.
Moisture Not more than 15% for quills and 12% for other grades
Volatile Oil Minimum 1% for quills and 0.7% for other grades on dry
Shelf Life Minimum of 1 year
Packing Packaged in clean, sound, dry packages, made ofofjute,
cloth, paper or polyethylene bags.
Chemical Requirements of Cinnamon

SLSI ESA requirements ISO-6539 : 1997 Requirements SLSI / ISO Test Methods
Ash 5.0 % w/w (max) 7% w/w (max) 5% on dry basis max SLS 186 : Part 5 ISO 928
Acid insoluble ash 1.0% w/w (max) 2% w/w(max) 1% (m/m) dry basis max SLS 186 : Part 3 ISO 930
H2O % 15.0 w/w (max) 15 % w/w (max) 14% (m/m) max SLS 186 : Part 4 ISO 939
Volatile Oil 1.0 ml/ 100g (min) 0.45 w/w (min) ml/100g on dry basis min.
Whole Cinnamon - 1%
Ground Cinnamon - 0.7%
SLS 186 : Part 11 ISO 6571
Cleanliness Specifications and Permissible pesticide Residues
ASTA Cleanliness Specifications (Effective from 28th August 1990)
Whole insect dead by count Excreta mammalian by mg/lb Excreta other by mg/lb Mold % by weight Insect infested % by weight Extraneous matter % by weight
2 1 2.0 1.00 1.00 0.50

*ASTA - American Spice Trade Association

Defect Action Level - USFDA from Cinnamon
Cinnamon Whole Mold
(MPM - V32)
Average of 5% or more pieces by weight
is moldy
Insect filth
(MPM - V 32)
Average of 5% or more
pieces by weight are insect infested
Mammalian excreta
(MPM - V32)
Average of 1 mg or more mammalian excreta
per pond
Insect filth
(AOAC 968'38B)
Average of 400 or more
insect fragments per 50 grams
Rodent filth
(AOAC 968.38
Average of 11 or more rodent hairs per 50
USFDA-United States Food and Drug Administration
MPM-MycroanalyticalProcedures Manual
AOAC-Official Method of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists.
Maximum levels for heavy metals tolerated in spices and herbs under ESA mg/kg

Heavy Metal
Max. Level(mg/kg)
Arsenic 5.00
Copper 20.0
Lead 10.0
Zinc 50.0
ESA - European Spice Association