White Cinnamon, or Canella, is a large evergreen perennial shrub or small tree having fawny, greyish, scaly and aromatic bark. A monospecific genus native to the Caribbean, the canella bark is used as similarly as it would the true cinnamon, hence the name “white cinnamon”.
Its leaves are alternate and leathery, oval in shape with a smooth edge, while its small purple to red flowers blossom in terminal cymes with numerous stamens. The white cinnamon fruit is globular and slightly ovate, with soft, black seeds; when ripe it turns a bright crimson colour and a strong scent. The wood of white cinnamon is very heavy and exceedingly hard, strong and close-grained, a rich dark red-brown.
Its aromatic inner bark that is pale yellow, and this is stripped from the trunk and branches, and dried to make white cinnamon. In flavour it is extremely similar to ceylon cinnamon, though with a slightly more bitter taste.
Despite its agreeable scent, the taste of the white cinnamon is instead pungent, bitter and acrid, and is used in the Caribbean as a common spice. Occasionally added to tobacco to mask its unpleasant smell, its bitterness is thought to be useful in easing stomach ailments, and often complements other medicines.
Formerly prescribed to treat scurvy, powdered white cinnamon is also thought to complement aloes as a stimulating purgative.
last update by M 12/7/2012