Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Cinnamomum spp. Asia and Pacific (Medang, cinnamon)

Nomenclature etc. LAURACEAE. Ca. 50 species from Asia and the australo-pacific region. Trade and local names: camphor wood, cinnamon (trade, GB); medang, huru (ID); keplah wangi, teja, bunsod (MY). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Description based on 8. Tree. Geographic distribution: temperate Asia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indomalesia, Pacific Islands, and Australia.

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct or indistinct or absent (distinctly semi-ringporous only in wood from subtropical and temperate climate regions). Heartwood basically brown (to olive) yellow, with streaks or without streaks (with distinct streaks in the darker and heavier species, e.g. C. camphora, C. parthenoxylon). Sapwood colour similar to heartwood colour and distinct from heartwood colour. Odour distinct, or indistinct or absent (distinctly aromatic only in few species, e.g., C. cecidodaphne, C. camphora, C. eugenoliferum, C. grandiflorum, C. litseaefolium, C. micranthum). Density 0.5–0.75 g/cm³. Wood of commercial potential.

Vessels. Vessels present. Wood semi-ring-porous or diffuse-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows and radial rows of 4 or more. Vessel outline rounded, or angular. Two distinct vessel diameter classes absent. Average tangential vessel diameter 60–135–170 µm; diameter of vessel lumina: medium and large. Average number of vessels/mm² 6–15(–22); vessels per square millimetre few. Perforation plates simple and scalariform (generally only few scalariform perforation plates), with 2–10 bars. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 7–11(–13) µm, medium, not vestured. Vessel-ray pits with reduced borders or apparently simple, rounded or angular and horizontal to vertical, of uniform size or type, of the same type in adjacent elements, located throughout the ray. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels present, thinwalled. Other deposits in heartwood vessels not observed.

Tracheids and fibres. Vascular or vasicentric tracheids sporadic to absent. Fibres very thin-walled, or of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 1100–1600(–2000) µm. Average fibre length medium. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Helical thickenings absent. Fibres septate and non-septate, or non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma present, not banded. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty, or vasicentric and confluent. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 3–6. Unlignified parenchyma absent.

Rays. Rays present, 5–8 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 2–4(–5) cells wide, narrow (2–3 seriate) and of medium width (3–5 seriate). Rays with multiseriate portions as wide as uniseriate portions absent. Aggregate rays absent. Rays of one size. Height of large rays up to 500 µm, or commonly 500 to 1000 µm. Rays composed of two or more cell types (heterocellular). Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells. Sheath cells absent. Tile cells absent. Perforated ray cells absent. Disjunctive ray parenchyma end walls indistinct or absent.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Oil and mucilage cells present, associated with axial parenchyma, ray parenchyma, and fibres (secretory cells highly variable in quantity and shape, mostly oilcells; mucilage cells frequent in: C. iners, C. javanicum, C. obtusifolium, C. sintoc, C. tamala). Intercellular canals absent. Laticifers or tanniniferous tubes absent.

Cambial variants. Included phloem absent. Other cambial variants absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present or not observed, in other forms (needles, splinters, small styloids - only in few species). Cystoliths absent. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent; basically colourless to brown or shade of brown. Heartwood extractives not leachable by water. Ethanol extract not fluorescent. Colour of ethanol extract colourless to brown or shade of brown. Chrome azurol-S test negative. Froth test positive (weakly). Splinter burns to partial ash. Ash white to grey.

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Cinnamomum cassia. • Transverse section. Cinnamomum camphora. Cinnamomum culilawan. Transverse section at higher magnification. Nearly semi-ringporous with smaller pores and many oil cells (left); diffuse porous with larger pores and fewer oil cells (right). • Tangential section. Cinnamomum burmanii. • Radial section. Cinnamomum culilawan (few oil cells in both ray and axial parenchyma). • Secretory cells. Cinnamomum iners. Cinnamomum pauciflorum. Secretory cells with mucilage (left) and oily compounds (right). • Miscellaneous. Cinnamomum cassia. Cross-field pits simple and variable in shape (left); occasionally scalariform perforation plates in smaller vessels (right).


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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