Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Cinnamomum iners Reinw. ex Blume

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Laurales
Family:Lauraceae
Genus:Cinnamomum
Species:C. iners
Common Names:Wild Cinnamon, Kayu Manis
Status:Common

Description

This species is an evergreen medium-sized tree which can grow up to 18 m tall. The bark as well as the leaves smell of cinnamon when crushed between the fingers. Leaves are simple, narrowly long, 8-30 x 2.5-9 cm, alternately arranged and has three longitudinal veins. They are thin and leathery. Flowers are bisexual, in loose terminal bunches, 10-18 cm long, cream white to yellow and sweet smelling. Fruits are round to oblong, 1.5 x 1 cm, turning from green to blue-black when ripe, are produced in the form of berries, which have a lime mixed with cinnamon smell when crushed. The fruit sap stains purple.

Read more about the Laurales order.
Read more about the Lauraceae family.

Distribution

Native to India and West Malesia, it is now commonly found in many tropical countries.

Localities

Commonly planted along many roads.

General Biology

It is a fast-growing, sun-loving tree that grows abundantly in open country, secondary forests, forest edges and even in high forests.

New leaves grow at intervals. During certain seasons when a dry spell follows rainy weather, new buds and reddish pink young leaves that appear droopy will form. The young leaves change in colour as they mature, turning from reddish pink to cream to light green to dark green when mature. The flowers also develop during this time when the plant is most conspicuous

Life Cycle

The waxy, rancid smell produced by the flowers attract hoverflies, small beetles and other small insects, which are potential pollinators for the plant.

Its seeds are dispersed by birds, squirrels and bats.

Ecological Role

Its leaves are the common food source of caterpillars of the Common Mime (Chilasa clytia clytia) and the Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpdedon luctatius).

Human Uses

Due to the attractive colours of its foliage, the Wild Cinnamon is widely planted as ornamentals or as hedges.

The leaves are used traditionally in treating diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs, fever, and rheumatism. Leaf oil extracts from the plant have aromatherapeutic applications. In cases of poisoning by the latex from Antiaris toxicaria (Poison Arrow Tree or Ipoh Tree), the leaves can also be used to produce an antidote.

A decoction of the boiled roots is also administered to women post-labour.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Corlett, R. T., 2011. Lauraceae. P. 358-359. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors), Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development, Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, 552 pp.

Corner, E.J.H., 1988. Wayside Trees of Malaya. Third Edition. Volumes 1-2. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 861 pp.

National Parks Board, 2009. Trees of Our Garden City (2nd edition). National Parks Board, Singapore. 384 pp.

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