Cinchona sp. belongs to the Rubiaceae family, characterized by having about 8,000 species in about 600 genres.
The most important species are C. ledgeriana, C. officinalis, C. succirubra, C. calisaya and C. pubescens which differ in flower color.
Native of tropical areas of western America, specifically in the areas of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
Crops are located in Indonesia, India, Tanzania, Guatemala and Bolivia.
It grows in high rainfall areas and altitudes between 1,000 and 3,000 meters.
The name cinchona is derived from the Countess of Chinchon, it is said that she was the first person who was cured by the plant. Name given by Linnaeus in 1753.
Perennial shrub which is about 10-30 meters high with rugged bark. The colour is grayish brown or brown.
Rarely form large tracts of forests, tend to grow in small groups or in solitary form.
Insertion at the stem is peciolate with an opposite distribution of the leaves.
Simple and entire leaves with oblique nerves. The form is oval or lanceolate.
Hermaphrodite flowers. Colour can be white, white-pink, purple or greenish-white depending on species. Inferior ovary and bicarpelar with 4 stamens.
Cymose inflorescence with tubular corolla formed by 5 petals forming groups in terminal panicles.
The fruit is an oblong capsule containing approximately 25 seeds which are flat and winged.
The dried bark of the stem is the used part although in some countries, the bark of the root is also officinal.
The drug of the plant emits a faint odor with a very bitter taste and slightly astringent.
The principle active is formed in the parenchyma cells of the medium layers of the cortex.
They contain about 25 alkaloids. The most important of them are quinine and quinidine.
They have other substances as essential oils, fats, water, starch, sugars and tannins among other.
Quinine is used recently as a treatment of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum and also as an antipyretic.
Quinidine has antiarrhythmic properties with cardiac depressant properties against heart stoppage and acute myocardial infarction.
Moderately toxic plant that can cause cinchonism, it cannot be used in children, pregnant or nursing women.