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Cinchona, Quinine Bark
Cinchona L. (Rubiaceae)
General description:
Cinchona is a genus containing about 23 species native to mountains in South and Central America. Two species, Cinchona calisaya and Cinchona pubescens are important in the commercial production of the antimalarial drug quinine. Cinchona calisaya produces high levels of quinine, but is relatively slow growing. Cinchona pubescens grows more quickly, but produces lower levels of quinine. Much commercial production on plantations now found throughout the world involves hybrids between these and other Cinchona species.
Cinchona plants are shrubs or small trees. They produce clusters of white to purple flowers which are pollinated by hummingbirds and butterflies. Fruits are capsules with seeds dispersed by wind.
History, uses and importance:
Quinine played an important role in world history as one of the first effective treatments for malaria. Malaria has been one of the deadliest infectious diseases throughout history. Although malaria was not present in the New World prior to European colonization, Amerindians soon discovered the use of cinchona bark as a treatment for malaria. Jesuit missionaries in Peru learned of its use in the 1620s, and in 1630 it was used to treat the Countess of Cinchon, for whom the genus is named. Following her recovery, cinchona bark was introduced to Europe and around the world. For the next two centuries cinchona bark was widely harvested and exported under Jesuit control, although there was little understanding of which species were most effective (due to some taxonomic confusion, Cinchona officinalis has been reported as a source of quinine although this species actually produces very little quinine). In the 19th century, seeds of Cinchona were exported and used to establish plantations in other tropical regions. With technological advances in chemistry it became possible to identify plants with higher quinine yields, and to breed plants for increased quinine production. Widespread quinine production has saved millions of lives over the last 400 years. Quinine is still widely used even though other drugs for treating malaria were discovered beginning in the 1920s and malaria parasites have increasingly become resistant to quinine treatment. Quinine is also used to flavor tonic water, which was originally produced to prevent malaria, although tonic waters produced today have relatively low quinine levels.
General References:
Tropicos Rubiaceae Project Cinchona profile
Global History of Quinine
Quinine, an old anti-malarial drug in a modern world (review article)
Honigsbaum, Mark 2001 The Fever Trail: In Search of the Cure for Malaria. New York City: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (book)
History of Cinchona at Kew
Comprehensive museum links:
Artefacts Canada, Quinine
Artefacts Canada, Ague
Artefacts Canada, “Botanical” Quinine
Artefacts Canada, Malaria
The British Museum, Quinine
The British Museum, Quina Quina
The British Museum, Malaria
The British Museum, Ague
The Lithuanian National Museum/Lietuvos Nacionalinis Mujiejus, quinine/malaria
Royal Museums Greenwich, Quinine
Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, Quinine
Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, Quina Quina
Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, Malaria
Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, Ague
Natural history museum links:
Herb Museum, Vancouver, Quinine
Herb Museum, Vancouver, Quinine/Research
Royal Horticultural Society, cinchona
UK Science Museum, Quinine
UK Science Museum, Quinine
History museum links:
The Autry Museum of the American West, Quinine
The Autry Museum of the American West, Peruvian Bark
Glendora Historical Society, Quinine
National History Museum, Los Angeles County, Quinine (in Anthropology Database)
The National Museum of American History, Quinine
Art museum links:
Minnesota Historical Society, Quinine
Missouri History Museum/Missouri Historical Society, Quinine
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Quinine
Rochester Art Center (MN), Exhibit on Medicine
UK National Portrait Gallery, ?Quinine, Explorer Markham?,
UK National Portrait Gallery, Quinine Botanist
UK National Portrait Gallery, Quinine, Jesuit Missionary
UK National Portrait Gallery, Quinine, French Naturalist
UK National Portrait Gallery, Quinine, Botanist
UK National Portrait Gallery, Patron of the Quinine Explorer Spruce
Anthropology museum links:
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: Preu?ischer Kulturbesitz: Ethnologisches Museum , Quinine
Library links:
New Orleans Public Library (Partners with NATFAB; National Food and Beverage Foundation), Quinine
New Orleans Public Library (Partners with NATFAB; National Food and Beverage Foundation), Cinchona
M?tter Museum and Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, ?Quinine and the American Civil War
Simon Fraser University Library, Quinine
UC San Diego (Library), Quinine
UC San Diego, Cinchona
The Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Quinine
Floristic and taxonomic links:
Flora of China (Cinchona)
Flora of China (Cinchona calisaya)
Flora of China (Cinchona pubescens)
GRIN Taxonomy (Cinchona)
GRIN Taxonomy (Cinchona calisaya)
GRIN Taxonomy (Cinchona pubescens)
IPNI (Cinchona)
IPNI (Cinchona calisaya)
IPNI (Cinchona pubescens)
Kew electronic Plant Information Centre (Cinchona calisaya)
Kew electronic Plant Information Centre (Cinchona pubescens)
Plants of the World Online (Cinchona)
Plants of the World Online (Cinchona calisaya)
Plants of the World Online (Cinchona pubescens)
Herbarium links:
JSTOR (Cinchona)
GBIF (Cinchona)
GBIF (Cinchona calisaya)
GBIF (Cinchona pubescens)
DNA and genetics links:
NCBI (Cinchona)
NCBI (Cinchona pubescens)
NCBI (Cinchona calisaya)
Specialized database links:
Encyclopedia of Life (Cinchona)
Encyclopedia of Life (Cinchona pubescens)
iNaturalist (Cinchona)
iNaturalist (Cinchona pubescens)
Invasive Species Compendium (Cinchona pubescens)
Plants for a Future (Cinchona pubescens)
Plants for a Future (Cinchona calisaya)
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