1(A) The pungent aromatic bark of a South American evergreen shrub or small tree, Drimys winteri (family Winteraceae), currently used as a spice for its peppery flavour thought to resemble that of cinnamon, and formerly valued as an antiscorbutic and stimulant; (b) (more fully "Winter's bark tree") the tree producing this bark, which has leathery, lanceolate leaves, reddish shoots, and clusters of white jasmine-scented flowers.
2In full "false Winter's bark". The aromatic bark of the wild cinnamon tree, Canella winterana (family Canellaceae), which is used medicinally, as a spice, and in perfumery. Also: the tree producing this bark, a large evergreen shrub or tree native to Florida and the Caribbean, which has aromatic leaves and panicles of small, bright red flowers.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Richard Hawkins (c1560–1622), naval officer. In some forms from the genitive of the name of Captain John Winter, English navigator + bark, after post-classical Latin Winteranus cortex.