- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Field crops, grasses, plant fibers, spices, tree crops, herbs
Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:February 2020
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A group of trees belonging to the madder family (Rubiaceae), occurring indigenously in the cool, cloud forests of the Andes from Colombia to Peru. Many species of cinchona (genus Cinchona) have been described. Most are variants of C. pubescens (see illustration) or C. officinalis. The bark contains several alkaloids, with the most important being quinine. This bitter substance is the most specific drug used in the treatment of malaria. The great demand for quinine and the wasteful methods used in collecting the materials threatened extinction of cinchona plants; therefore, cultivation of cinchona was begun. Presently, there are extensive cinchona plantations in India, Java, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Jamaica. See also: Alkaloid; Gentianales; Malaria; Quinine
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