Native to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), true cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C., and is still known as kwai in the Chinese language today. Its botanical name derives from the Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, meaning fragrant spice plant. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming process. From their word for cannon, Italians called it canella, meaning “little tube,” which aptly describes cinnamon sticks.
In the first century A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote of 350 grams of cinnamon as being equal in value to over five kilograms of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight.