Kaningag is a small to medium size tree of the genus Cinnamon, about four to eight meters tall with a diameter of twenty five to thirty five centimeters and a smooth outer bark. It is endemic to the forests of Cantipla and Tabunan of Barangay Tabunan of Cebu in Philippines and to a few nearby islands of Camotes and Siquijor.
This species is highly prized for its aromatic bark and leaves, and medicinal and culinary purposes. According to locals, the bark is said to cure stomach aches by either chewing on or boiled in water before drinking.
The leaves are leathery yet smooth, about sixteen centimeters long and eleven centimeters wide, tapering with a pointed tip. They are widely used as spice. The panicles are about seventeen centimeters long with densely hairy flowers.
There has been no study done yet on the fruits since it is only very recently that the Cebu cinnamon was acknowledged, when an unknown collector gave a sample of it in 1971 to a Dutch botanist, Dr. Kostermanns who described it by 1986.
There is no known history about this tree although it is one of twenty cinnamons found in the Philippines, sixteen of which are endemic.
Considering its potentials, a lot of organizations help in ensuring its survival. The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI), through the Native Trees Nursery, is selling seedlings. There are also trees planted in Cantipla where it’s now a part of the forest reserves.
The Global Trees Campaign, an international program dedicated to saving the world’s threatened tree species, is gathering information on the local uses for cinnamon products in the Philippines. The Cebu cinnamon is under critically endangered species (ICUN 3.1).
Loss of habitat of Cebu island is of the biggest threats to the Cebu cinnamon due to increasing urbanisation and the declining forest cover as a result of agricultural encroachment. The practice of bark stripping for medicinal use also poses a threat to its survival as overexploitation of this resource may lead to infection, or even death.
Preserving the Cebu Cinnamon in Central Cebu may also mean preserving the rich habitat of the area where threatened species are also found such as Cebu flowerpecker, black shama, the streak-breasted bulbul, therufous-lored kingfisher, and the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat among others. What is equally important is when the forest reserve is threatened so is the water reserves of Cebu.