Posted by Bangzkie Friday, February 17, 2012
Cinchona or Quina is a genus of about 38 species in the family Rubiaceae, native to the tropical Andes forests of western South America.They are medicinal plants, known as sources for quinine and other compounds.
The Cinchona plants are large shrubs or small trees with evergreen foliage, growing 5–15 metres (16–49 ft) in height. The leaves are opposite, rounded to lanceolate and 10–40 cm long. The flowers are white, pink or red, produced in terminal panicles. The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous seeds.
Medicinal use:The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua (Inca) peoples of Peru and Bolivia, and long cultivated by them as a muscle relaxant to halt shivering due to low temperatures. The Jesuit Brother Agostino Salumbrino (1561–1642), an apothecary by training and who lived in Lima, observed the Quechua using the quinine-containing bark of the cinchona tree for that purpose. While its effect in treating malaria (and hence malaria-induced shivering) was entirely unrelated to its effect in controlling shivering from cold, it was nevertheless the correct medicine for malaria. The use of the “fever tree” bark was introduced into European medicine by Jesuit missionaries (Jesuit's bark). Jesuit Barnabé de Cobo (1582–1657), who explored Mexico and Peru, is credited with taking cinchona bark to Europe. He brought the bark from Lima to Spain, and afterwards to Rome and other parts of Italy, in 1632.After Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Jesuit missionaries were the first to bring the Jesuit's bark cinchona compound to Europe in 1632. To maintain their monopoly on cinchona bark, Peru and surrounding countries began outlawing the export of cinchona seeds and saplings beginning in the early 19th century.
The bark of trees in this genus is the source of a variety of alkaloids, the most familiar of which is quinine, an anti-fever agent especially useful in treating malaria. Cinchona alkaloids include: