What is the difference between cinnamon and cassia?

The use of these two words in the U.S. marketplace has been a source of enormous confusion. Some people talk about cinnamon and cassia as if they are the exact same thing. Other people talk about them as if they are completely different. Here is what the research says about these words and the spices that they describe:

First, all types of cinnamon belong to the same family of plants, called the Lauraceae family. In fact, there are more cinnamon species in this plant family (an estimated 2,000-2,500 total) than any other plant species. Other members of the Lauraceae family commonly enjoyed as foods include avocado and bay leaves.

Several species of cinnamon are often grouped together and referred to as either "cassia cinnamons" or just "cassia." From a U.S. marketplace perspective, the most important of these species is Cinnamomum burmannii, also referred to as either Indonesian cinnamon, Indonesian cassia, or Java cinnamon. This species is especially important because it accounts for over 90% of the cinnamon imported into the U.S. between 2008-2013. If you are consuming a cinnamon-flavored produce, it is most likely to have been flavored with this species of cinnamon. Below you will find the different scientific names for cinnamon and below each of them the common name associated with them.