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Publication #FPS101

Canella winterana Cinnamon Bark1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert and Drew C. McLean2


Cinnamon bark is a salt tolerant large evergreen shrub or small tree native of Florida and tropical America. Red showy flowers cover the tree in summer and fall followed by bright red berries clustered near the tips of branches. Thick, obovate to spatulate shaped leaves fill the dense canopy with a dark green color. The trunk grows straight up the center of the canopy and develops thin branches that grow to no more than about 4 feet long.

Figure 1. 

Full Form—Canella winterana: Cinnamon bark

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Canella winterana

Pronunciation: kuh-NEL-luh win-tur-AY-nuh

Common name(s): cinnamon bark, winter cinnamon, wild cinnamon

Family: Canellaceae

Plant type: tree

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: native to Florida, the West Indies, and northern South America

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: native

Uses: hedge; espalier; narrow tree lawns (3–4 feet wide); medium-sized tree lawns (4–6 feet wide); wide tree lawns (> 6 feet wide); recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; screen; small parking lot islands (< 100 square feet in size); medium-sized parking lot islands (100–200 square feet in size); large parking lot islands (> 200 square feet in size)

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

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Height: 15 to 45 feet

Spread: 15 feet

Plant habit: columnar

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: slow

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: obovate

Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 3 to 5 inches

Leaf color: dark green and shiny on top, paler green underneath

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Canella winterana: Cinnamon bark

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Flower color: red

Flower characteristic: lightly fragrant; emerges in clusters on 1” long corymbs

Flowering: primarily spring to late summer, but also year-round

Figure 4. 

Flower—Canella winterana: Cinnamon bark

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Fruit shape: round

Fruit length: ¼ inch

Fruit cover: fleshy berry

Fruit color: turns from green to red with maturity

Fruit characteristic: attracts birds; aromatic

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: no thorns

Bark: gray brown, becoming scaly and fissured with age

Current year stem/twig color: green

Current year stem/twig thickness: thick

Figure 5. 

Bark, Young—Canella winterana: Cinnamon bark

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 6. 

Bark, Mature—Canella winterana: Cinnamon bark


Gitta Hasing

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Light requirement: full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: alkaline; sand; loam; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Aerosol salt tolerance: high

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Cinnamon bark can be used as a specimen planted alone in the landscape as a small tree. They can be trained with several stems reaching up into the canopy, or left to grow with one trunk as seen in the wild. The rich, dense foliage creates a cooling shade beneath the tree and makes this a good native plant for locating near patios and decks for large and small residences alike. Plant them in a row spaced 10 feet apart along an entrance to a subdivision, mall or commercial landscape for a dramatic impact. The narrow canopy makes it a good candidate for a clipped or unclipped screen along a property line. A number of nurseries offer this wonderful plant for sale.

Best growth and flowering occur in the full sun on a relatively well-drained site. The tree tolerates alkaline soils well. It is an endangered plant in Florida.

Pests and Diseases

No serious pests or diseases bother this plant.


Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.



This document is FPS101, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.


Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.