Cinnamomum zeylanicum, evergreen tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae) native to(Ceylon), Malabar Coast and Myanmar (Burma), also cultivated in South America and the West Indies for the spice consisting of its dried inner bark. Cinnamon was once more valuable than gold. In Egypt it was sought for embalming and witchcraft. In medieval Europe it was used for religious rites and as a flavoring. Later it was the most-profitable spice in the Dutch East India Company trade. In modern times cinnamon is used to flavor a variety of foods and drinks; in Europe and the it is especially popular in bakery goods.