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Cinchona pubescens - flowers
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Cinchona (from the Countess Chinchon, wife of a Spanish Viceroy of Peru, who was cured of fever in 1638 by the use of Peruvian bark). Rubiaceae. Plants widely known as yielding a remedy, in the bark, for malaria.

Some of the species are lofty trees, others are mere shrubs. They grow isolated in various districts of the Andes, at elevations ranging from 2,300-9,000 ft., and between 22° south and 10° north latitude. Lvs. opposite, with deciduous stipules: fls. much frequented by humming-birds, fragrant, white and pink in color, growing in terminal panicles; calyx small, 5-toothed, and persistent; corolla hasa a long tube with 5 short spreading valvate lobes, hairy at the margins; stamens 5, included in the corolla; ovary 2-cefled, with very numerous ovules inserted on linear axile placentae: caps, opening septicidally from the base upwards; seeds small, numerous, flat and surrounded with a wing.— There are 30-40 confused species. Specimens are sometimes seen in collections of economic plants, but they are not horticultural subjects.

From the pharmacopoeial point of view there are two distinct kinds of cinchona bark: (1) Cinchona, also called yellow cinchona and calisaya bark, which is probably the bark obtained from Cinchona Ledgeriana, Moens, and hybrids of this with other species of Cinchona. The bark secured from these sources is said to contain 6 to 7 per cent of alkaloids, of which one-half to two-thirds is quinine. (2) Cinchona rubra, or red cinchona, which is obtained from Cinchona suecirubra, Pavon, or its hybrids. In this bark the alkaloid cinchonidine exists in greater proportion.

The cinchona trees are considered to yield the maximum of alkaloids at six to nine years of age. The bark of the trunk and roots is removed; the latter is used mostly in the manufacture of quinine. Effort has been made to adopt the spelling Chinchona, although Linnaeus, in founding the genus, used only one h: see Clements R. Markham "A Memoir of the Lady Ana de Osorio, Countess of Chinchon and Vice-Queen of Peru (A.D. 1629-39), with a Plea for the Correct Spelling of the Chinchona Genus," London, 1874.

The febrifuge reached Spain as early as 1639. Knowledge of it was spread by the Countess of Chinchon, hence it was called Countess' powder and Peruvian bark, and also Jesuits' bark, from the knowledge of it spread by Jesuits. The word quinine is derived from the name by which it was known in Peru, quinaquina, or "bark of barks." In 1849, trees were sent by the Jesuits to Algeria, but the experiment was not successful. In 1852-4, Hasskarl successfully introduced living plants into Java. in 1859, Clements R. Markham was entrusted by the government of India with the task of collecting plants and seeds on the Andes, and establishing them in India. In his fascinating book "Peruvian Bark: a popular account of the introduction of Chinchona cultivation into British India" (1880), Markham recounts the difficulties in South America and his final success. Cinchona is now grown commercially in India and also in Jamaica, but most of the commercial product is secured from trees grown in Java; it is also cultivated in New Zealand and Australia. C. Ledgeriana, Moens (C. Calisaya, Wedd., var. Ledgeriana, How.), is a small tree with small thick elliptical lvs., reddish beneath, and with yellowish not fragrant fls., and a short caps. C. succirubra, Pav., has large and thin broad-elliptic lvs., purple-red calyx and rose-colored petals, and an elongated caps. C. officinalis, Hook, f., has oval-lanceolate acute shining lvs., and rose-colored silky fls. It is sometimes seen (in some of its forms) in collections. Var. Condaminea (C. Condaminea, Humb. & Bonpl.) is one of these forms and has been intro. in S. Calif, and said to be easily grown there. L.H.B.

Cultivation of cinchona. (By Wm. Fawcett.) The seedlings may be raised either in boxes or in beds. The boxes should not be more than 3 or 4 inches deep. Three - quarter - inch drainage-holes should be made in the bottom, about 6 inches apart. Whitewash the boxes or dust them inside with lime. Put pieces of broken flower-pots over the drainage holes, and cover the bottom with gravel to a depth of 1 inch. The soil should be made up of one-third leaf-mold, one-third good soil and one-third fine river gravel. These should be thoroughly mixed and passed through a¼-inch sieve. Fill the boxes to within¼ inch of the top, and slightly water. Sow the seed evenly, and sprinkle over it some of the sifted soil, only just covering it. The boxes should be under shade, sheltered from rain, and watered every day with a very fine spray from a watering-can. The seedlings will appear in three or four weeks. If the seeds are sown in beds, they require the protection of a roof sloping south, and supported by posts 4 feet 6 inches high on the north, and 3 feet 3 inches on the south side. The sides may also have to be covered in. The breadth of the beds is 3 feet. The roof projects beyond the south posts sufficiently to keep off direct sunlight, and in the summertime, at any rate, a narrow north roof must be added at right angles. If the sheds are built under the shade of tall trees, the roof is needed only for shelter from rain.

When the seedlings are 1½ to 2 inches high, they should be transplanted into nursery beds, made up in the same way as for seeds. In transplanting, use a wooden peg 4 or 5 inches long, ¾inch thick at one end and tapering to a dull point. A seedling is picked up with the left hand from a bundle brought from the seed beds, a hole is made with the peg in the right hand, big enough to receive the roots without bending or crushing them. The soil is then pressed closely over the rootlets with the peg. Two inches between each plant is enough room. At first the plants should be shaded, but when they are twice or thrice as high as when transplanted the shading may be gradually removed to harden them for putting out in their permanent positions.

The soil and subsoil should be free and open to insure good drainage; newly cleared forest land on a hillside is the best for Cinchona trees. In Jamaica, Cinchona officinalis flourishes best at an elevation of about 5,500 feet, with a mean annual temperature of about 60° F., ranging from a minimum of 46° to a maximum of 75° and with a total annual rainfall of 120 to 150 inches.

The distance when planted out in their permanent positions is 3 by 3 feet, and as soon as they begin to interfere with each other's growth they should be thinned out just sufficiently at first to prevent this. The bark of those cut down may be worth stripping if the price of bark is high. Several methods have been used in taking the bark from the trees. In South America, the tree is uprooted, and the whole of the bark may be taken from both root and stem. A second plan is used if shoots spring from the root; the trunk is cut through above the ground, the bark stripped, and the stump left to coppice, one or two of the shoots being allowed to grow. The third method is to make the same tree yield bark in successive seasons; for this purpose longitudinal layers of the bark are removed from the trunk, and the exposed surface is sometimes covered with moss; the bark renews itself, and the "renewed bark" is as rich (or richer) in alkaloids as the original. In this way, by taking successive strips of bark in different years, the tree yields a continuous supply of bark. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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  • Cinchona antioquiae L.Andersson (1998).
  • Cinchona asperifolia Wedd. (1848).
  • Cinchona barbacoensis H.Karst. (1860).
  • Cinchona × boliviana Wedd. (1848).
  • Cinchona calisaya Wedd. (1848).
  • Cinchona capuli L.Andersson (1994).
  • Cinchona fruticosa L.Andersson (1998).
  • Cinchona glandulifera Ruiz & Pav. (1802).
  • Cinchona hirsuta Ruiz & Pav. (1799).
  • Cinchona krauseana L.Andersson (1998).
  • Cinchona lancifolia Mutis (1793).
  • Cinchona lucumifolia Pav. ex Lindl. (1838).
  • Cinchona macrocalyx Pav. ex DC. (1829).
  • Cinchona micrantha Ruiz & Pav. (1799).
  • Cinchona mutisii Lamb. (1821).
  • Cinchona nitida Ruiz & Pav. (1799).
  • Cinchona officinalis L. (1753): Quinine Bark
  • Cinchona parabolica Pav. in J.E.Howard (1859).
  • Cinchona pitayensis (Wedd.) Wedd. (1849).
  • Cinchona pubescens Vahl (1790) : Quinine Tree
  • Cinchona pyrifolia L.Andersson (1998).
  • Cinchona rugosa Pav. in J.E.Howard (1859).
  • Cinchona scrobiculata Humb. & Bonpl. (1808).
  • Cinchona villosa Pav. ex Lindl. (1838).


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