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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 3 | Canellaceae

1. Canella P. Browne, Civ. Nat. Hist. Jamaica. 275, plate 27, fig. 3. 1756.

Canella or wild-cinnamon [Latin canella, cinnamon, related to cana, cane or reed, and -ella, diminutive, because of the tightly rolled bark when dried]

Trees [or large, sprawling shrubs], (3-)8-10(-15)m. Bark whitish gray. Stems erect [to prostrate]. Leaf blade deep green, shiny, obovate to oblanceolate, thick, leathery, base acute, apex rounded, notched, or blunt; oil cells possibly evident as pellucid dots, emitting strong aromatic odor when broken, causing sharp burning sensation on tongue when bitten. Inflorescences of 5-40 flowers, crowded toward end of stem. Flowers bisexual, protogynous; sepals green, imbricate, thick; petals basally connate, dark red to violet, lighter at base, thick; stamens 10; filaments connate into tube surrounding pistil, tube protruding slightly beyond anthers and nearly equal to length of petals; anthers extrorsely dehiscent; pistil flask-shaped; ovary conic; style short; stigma 2-lobed. Berry changing from green through red to dark purple with age, globose, fleshy. Seeds shiny, hard. x =14.

Species 1 (1 in the flora): tropical regions in North America, West Indies, and ne South America.

An early report of a second species in the Maracaibo region of Venezuela and reports of either species in Colombia appear unfounded.


Wilson, T.K. 1964. Comparative morphology of the Canellaceae. III. Pollen. Bot. Gaz. 125(3): 192-197. Wilson, T.K. 1966. Comparative morphology of the Canellaceae. IV. Floral morphology and conclusions. Amer. J.Bot. 53(4): 336-343. Wilson, T.K. 1986. The natural history of Canella alba (Canellaceae). In: R.R. Smith, ed. 1986. Proceedings of the First Symposium on the Botany of the Bahamas.... San Salvador, Bahamas. Pp. 101-115.

Lower Taxon


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