Thanksgiving means cinnamon

Cold weather calls for warm spices and one of the warmest spices is cinnamon, found in apple pie, buns, muffins and even chocolate. It's the smell of Thanksgiving.

At one time people thought that cinnamon came from the cinnamon bird of Arabia, where Europeans thought it grew. The giant cinnamon birds gathered cinnamon sticks and built their nests with them. The nests were on treacherous cliffs so the Arabians tricked the cinnamon birds into giving up their precious sticks. The Arabs would leave hunks of meat near the birds' nests, and when the cinnamon birds took the meat back to their nests, the weight of the meat would break the nests from the cliffs, scattering the precious cinnamon sticks to the ground.

Unfortunately, what is sold as cinnamon in America is often really cassia. True cinnamon is the dried inner bark of Ceylon cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) that, because it is slow growing, makes a great houseplant.

You can find Ceylon cinnamon tree plants at mail-order specialty nurseries such as Logee's greenhouse (logee.com). You can also start the trees form seeds form suppliers such as Trade Winds Fruit (tradewindsfruit.com).

Grow it in an acidic potting soil in full or partial sun. You can use a potting mix of half perlite or peat moss and half regular potting soil. A south-facing window is good, or you can help it along with grow lights.

Since this is a tropical plant, keep the temperature above 60 degrees F. While they prefer humidity above 50-percent, they seem to do fine at lower levels. You can mist the plants every few days or set the pots on trays of pebbles with a little water in the trays. For best drainage use clay pots.

Let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. When you water your Ceylon cinnamon tree, be sure the soil is thoroughly soaked, so that some water comes out of the bottom of the pot.

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