|Cinchona pubescens - flowers|
about 38 species; see text
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 name of the genus is due to Carolus "Carl" Linnaeus, who named the tree in 1742 after a Countess of Chinchón, the wife of a viceroy of Peru, who, in 1638, was introduced by native Quechua healers to the medicinal properties of cinchona bark. Stories of the medicinal properties of this bark, however, are perhaps noted in journals as far back as the 1560s–1570s.
Medicinal uses 
The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua 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.
Meanwhile, also in the 19th century, the plant's seeds and cuttings were smuggled out for new cultivation at cinchona plantations in colonial regions of tropical Asia, notably by the British to the British Raj and Ceylon (present day India and Sri Lanka), and by the Dutch to Java in the Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia).
As a medicinal herb, cinchona bark is also known as Jesuit's bark or Peruvian bark. The bark is stripped from the tree, dried, and powdered for medicinal uses. The bark is medicinally active, containing a variety of alkaloids including the antimalarial compound quinine and the antiarrhythmic quinidine. Currently, their use is largely superseded by more effective modern medicines.
Cinchona species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the engrailed, the commander, and members of the genus Endoclita, including E. damor, E. purpurescens and E. sericeus.
- South America
According to legend, the first European ever to be cured from malaria fever was the countess of Chinchón, the wife of the Spanish Luis Jerónimo de Cabrera, 4th Count of Chinchón - the Viceroy of Peru. The namesake Chinchón is a small town in central Spain. In the Viceroyalty of Peru, the court physician was summoned and urged to save the countess from the waves of fever and chill threatening her life, but every effort failed to relieve her. At last, the physician administered some medicine he had obtained from the local Indians, who had been using it for similar syndromes. The countess survived the malarial attack and reportedly brought the cinchona bark back with her when she returned to Europe in the 1640s.
The Italian botanist Pietro Castelli wrote a pamphlet noteworthy as being the first Italian publication to mention the cinchona. By the 1630s (or 1640s, depending on the reference), the bark was being exported to Europe. In the late 1640s, the method of use of the bark was noted in the Schedula Romana, and in 1677, the use of the bark was noted in the London Pharmacopoeia.
Charles II called upon Robert Talbor, who had become famous for his miraculous malaria cure. Because at that time the bark was in religious controversy, Talbor gave the king the bitter bark decoction in great secrecy. The treatment gave the king complete relief from the malaria fever. In return, he was offered membership of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians.
In 1679, Talbor was called by the King of France, Louis XIV, whose son was suffering from malaria fever. After a successful treatment, Talbor was rewarded by the king with 3,000 gold crowns and a lifetime pension for this prescription. Talbor, however, was asked to keep the entire episode secret.
After Talbor's death, the French king found this formula: seven grams of rose leaves, two ounces of lemon juice and a strong decoction of the cinchona bark served with wine. Wine was used because some alkaloids of the cinchona bark are not soluble in water, but are soluble in the ethanol in wine.
In 1738, Sur l'arbre du quinquina, a paper written by Charles Marie de La Condamine, a member of the expedition that was sent to Peru to determine the length of a degree of the meridian arc in the neighbourhood of the equator, was published by the French Academy of Sciences. In it he identified three separate species.
In 1742, on the basis of a specimen received from La Condamine, Linnaeus named the tree Quinquina condaminiae and established a new genus, which he termed Cinchona quinquina condaminiae. In 1753, he described Cinchona officinalis as a separate species.
The birth of homeopathy was based on cinchona bark testing. The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, when translating William Cullen's Materia medica, noticed Cullen had written that Peruvian bark was known to cure intermittent fevers. Hahnemann took daily a large, rather than homeopathic, dose of Peruvian bark. After two weeks, he said he felt malaria-like symptoms. This idea of "like cures like" was the starting point of his writings on homeopathy. Hahnemann's symptoms are believed to be the result of a hypersensitivity to cinchona bark on his part.
The bark was very valuable to Europeans in expanding their access to and exploitation of resources in far-off colonies, and at home. Bark gathering was often environmentally destructive, destroying huge expanses of trees for their bark, with difficult conditions for low wages that did not allow the indigenous bark gatherers to settle debts even upon death.
Further exploration of the Amazon Basin and the economy of trade in various species of the bark in 18th century is captured by the extract from a book by Lardner Gibbon:
"...this bark was first gathered in quantities in 1849, though known for many years. The best quality is not quite equal to that of Yungas, but only second to it. There are four other classes of inferior bark, for some of which the bank pays fifteen dollars per quintal. The best, by law, is worth fifty-four dollars. The freight to Arica is seventeen dollars the mule load of three quintals. Six thousand quintals of bark have already been gathered from Yuracares. The bank was established in the year 1851. Mr. [Thaddäus] Haenke mentioned the existence of cinchona bark on his visit to Yuracares in 1796". (Source: Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, by Lieut. Lardner Gibbon, USN. Vol.II, Ch.6, pp. 146-47.)
In 1860, a British expedition to South America led by Clements Markham brought back smuggled cinchona seeds and plants, which were introduced in several areas of the British Raj in India and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, it was planted in the Hakgala Botanical Garden in January 1861. James Taylor, the pioneer of tea planting in Sri Lanka, was one of the pioneers of cinchona cultivation. By 1883, about 64,000 acres (260 km2) were in cultivation in Sri Lanka, with exports reaching a peak of 15 million pounds in 1886.
In 1865, "New Virginia" and "Carlota Colony" were established in Mexico by former American Civil War Confederate Matthew Fontaine Maury. Postwar confederates were enticed there by Maury, now the "Imperial Commissioner of Immigration" for Emperor Maximillian of Mexico, and Archduke of Habsburg. All that survives today of those two colonies are the flourishing groves of cinchonas, the quinine-producing trees purchased by Maury using seeds purchased from England. These seeds were the first to be introduced into Mexico.
Cinchona alkaloids 
The bark of trees in this genus is the source of a variety of alkaloids, the most familiar of which is quinine, an antipyretic (antifever) agent especially useful in treating malaria. Cinchona alkaloids include:
- cinchonine and cinchonidine (stereoisomers with R = vinyl, R' = hydrogen)
- quinine and quinidine (stereoisomers with R = vinyl, R' = methoxy)
- dihydroquinidine and dihydroquinine (stereoisomers with R = ethyl, R' = methoxy)
Other chemicals 
Alongside the alkaloids, many cinchona barks contain cinchotannic acid, a particular tannin, which by oxidation rapidly yields a dark-coloured phlobaphene called red cinchonic, cinchono-fulvic acid or cinchona red.
See also 
- "Genus Cinchona". Taxonomy. UniProt. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
- Motley, Cheryl. "Cinchona and its product--Quinine". Ethnobotanical leaflets. Southern Illinois University Herbarium. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- See Cinchona project - Ortiz
- "ARCOIRIS RESERVE SAN FRANCISCO CLOUD FOREST Podocarpus National Park". Arcoiris Ecologic Foundation. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- Deborah Kopka (12 Jan 2011). Central & South America. Milliken Pub. Co. p. 130. ISBN 978-1429122511. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- Rice, Benjamin Lewis (1897). Mysore: A gazetteer compiled for Government Vol. 1. Westminister: A Constable. p. 892.
- Guidelines for the treatment of malaria, World Health Organization, 2010
- Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood, ed. (1918). "Cinchona". The Dispensatory of the United States of America.
- Charles M. Poser, G. W. Bruyn (1999). An illustrated history of malaria. Parthenon Pub. Group. ISBN 1-85070-068-0.
- William Cullen, Benjamin Smith Barton (1812). Professor Cullen's treatise of the materia medica. Edward Parker.
- William E. Thomas. "Chapter 2: The basis of Homeopathy". Homeopathy; Historical Origins and the End.
- Taussig, M. (1987). Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man. University of Chicago Press.
- "Hakgala garden". Department of Agriculture, Government of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- Fry, Carolyn (6 January 2007). "The Kew Gardens of Sri Lanka". Travel (London: Timesonline, UK). Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- Sources: "Life of Maury" by Diane Corbin and "Scientist of the Sea" by Frances Leigh Williams.
- Henry G. Greenish (1920). "Cinchona Bark (Cortex Cinchonae). Part 3". A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin. J. & A. Churchill. ASIN B000J31E44.
- Alfred Baring Garrod (2007). "Cinchonaceae. Part 2". Essentials Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4326-8837-5.
- "Quinine". Encyclopaedia Britannica (10 ed.). 1902.
- Reader's Digest, Strange Stories, Amazing Facts II; Title : "The Bark of Barks" -Reader's digest publication
- The Journals of Hipólito Ruiz: Spanish Botanist in Peru and Chile 1777-1788, translated by Richard Evans Schultes and María José Nemry von Thenen de Jaramillo-Arango, Timber Press, 1998
- Druilhe, P., et al.. "Activity of a combination of three Cinchona bark alkaloids against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro". Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 32 (2): 25–254.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cinchona|
- The Cinchona project
- The Cinchona Project - biologist Maricela Argudo
- U. Minnesota: Cinchona Bark
- Using Bark to Cure the Bite
- Cinchona Alkaloids
- Botanical.com - Peruvian Bark
- Cinchona photos
- Photos of Cinchona pubescens
- Cinchona Project Field Books, 1938-1965 from the Smithsonian Institution Archives