The following points highlight the top two spices obtained from bark. The spices are: 1. Cassia China 2. Indian Cassia.
Spice # 1. Cassia China:
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees.; English—Cassia China; Family—Lauraceae.
Cassia China is obtained from C. aromaticum Nees cultivated in China. The bark is the regular cassia China of commerce. Because of its brittle nature, much of the bark is broken, thus yielding the ‘broken grade’.
The main grades are:
a. Whole Quills or China Rolls,
b. Selected Brokens or Canton Rolls, and
c. Extra Selected Brokens,
Trees growing at higher altitude (180-300 metres) yield better quality bark with higher volatile oil content.
The bark has been known from the earliest times. The dried immature fruits constitute the well known ‘Cassia buds’, known in India as Kala Nagkesar. This species of Cassia is not grown in India but considerable quantities of it are imported into the country.
When the trees are about six years old, the first cut of bark is obtained. The season for barking commences in March and continues till the end of May, after which the bark loses its aroma. The bark, after its removal and while it is still moist with sap, is then laid with the convex side downwards. The bark is left to dry for about 24 hours, and tied up in bundles of about 45 cm. diameter and sent for marketing.
It is used as a spice or condiment in curries and similar preparations. The important constituent of commercial importance is the volatile oil which finds numerous uses in the various culinary preparations, perfumery and cosmetics as well as pharmaceutical preparations.
Spice # 2. Indian Cassia:
Cinnamomum tamala Nees. & Eberm.; English—Indian Cassia; Hindi, Bengali and Punjabi—Tejpat, tejput, Gujarati—Tamalapatra; Marathi—Darchini; Sanskrit—Tamalaka, tejpatra; Tamil—Talishapattiri, Telugu—Talishapatri; Family—Lauraceae.
A moderate-sized evergreen tree. Distributed in tropical and subtropical Himalayas (915 to 2440 metres altitude), Khasi and Jaintia hills (915-1220 metres altitude).
The bark of the tree, known in trade as Indian Cassia or Indian Cassia Lignea, is collected from trees growing at the foot of the Sikkim Himalayas. Regular plantations of C. tamala are grown in Khasi and Jaintia Hills, Gara Hills, Mikir Hills, Manipur and Arunachal.
The bark is aromatic. It is coarser than the bark of true cinnamon and is one of the common adulterants of true cinnamon. The essential oil from the bark is pale yellow and contains 70-85 per cent cinnamic aldehyde.