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People who grow orchids will probably know well that cinnamon is quite a good remedy for fungal problems and is used for this purpose by orchid fanciers.
Here in Mexico, some people use it to effectively chase leaf-cutting ants away (given that these ant colonies use the leaves they harvest from our gardens to make compost for growing the fungal mycellium they feed on) while others use it as an infusion - a folk remedy for a host of problems including low blood pressure. Saigon cinnamon's the most potent and the tastiest.
I've heard of using cinnamon to help prevent "damping off" in seedlings (which is a fungal problem also) but didn't know cinnamon could be more widely applied as an antifungal... thanks!
I wonder if cinnamon would deter other types of ants, whether or not they were fungus eaters? Might be worth a try...
"True" cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon, which I think is also probably "Saigon cinnamon") is indeed the one to use for its health benefits. The cinnamon that's best known in the states is cassia cinnamon, which may be problematic to consume in larger quantities (eg, 1/2 teaspoon or more daily). I think the cinnamon used in Mexico for cooking is more likely to be ceylon cinnamon than cassia. I wrote an article about these 2 types of cinnamon here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1970/
For these ornaments, I think the cassia cinnamon is best, as it has a stronger aroma (to my nose, anyway) than the ceylon.
Great article - thankyou for clarifying something that had remained in question for me. Prompted me to do a search on Wikipedia as well.
Yes, here in Mexico, the cinnamon that we use and grow is, as you state, the more delicate, thinner bark of Cinnamomun zeylanicum or verum, which is considered by many culinary experts as being the finer, more valuable spice. However, I would agree with you that the stronger "cassia" imparts that cinnamon punch that gives baked goods the irresistable flavour cinnamon addicts crave. Wikipedia also clarified that Saigon cinnamon, with a more intense but finer fragrance than cassia, is actually a separate species - C. loureiroi.
Aha! Another cinnamon to discover! Thank you... I was thinking Saigon cinnamon was another common name for C. zeylanicum... I figured the latin name there explained the common name of "Ceylon Cinnamon" ("zeylan" sort of = "ceylon" ?)
OK, I just googled and discovered that C. loureiroi is commonly called "Vietnamese Cinnamon" -- I do have this in my spice cupboard! Mine comes from Penzey's, a spice company that also carries Chinese Cassia and Ceylon Cinnamon... I'd been thinking of it as simply a finer grade of cassia, with a more intense flavor. Cool to know it's actually a different species. :-)