Cinchona ledgeriana (Howard.) Bern.Moens. ex Trimen.
Cinchona officinalis Auct.
Common Name: Peruvian Bark
Peruvian bark is an evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow up to 8 metres tall[
The plant has long been used medicinally by the native people of S. America to treat fevers and a range of other conditions. The bark of this species, and several related species, has been shown to contain quinine, an effective antimalarial and febrifuge[
]. In the early 17th century, the Europeans became aware of the effectiveness of the bark of this tree in treating malaria and, over the next 200 years, the trees were greatly overexploited in the wild until commercial plantations were finally established in Java[
]. Largely replaced by synthetic drugs in the latter half of the 20th century, quinine has again become very important in treating malaria because various strains of malaria have developed resistance to the synthetics[
]. It is now grown in many tropical areas[
Care must be taken in the use of this herb since excess can cause a number of side effects including cinchonism, headache, rash, abdominal pain, deafness and blindness[
]. The herb, especially in the form of the extracted alkaloid quinine, is subject to legal restrictions in some countries[
Western S. America - Bolivia, Peru.
Cool, humid, mountain regions[
]. Andean rainforests[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found at elevations from 400 - 3,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 17 - 24°c, but can tolerate 7 - 28°c[
]. It can be killed by temperatures of 5°c or lower[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,500 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,400 - 3,800mm[
Requires a well-drained, moist soil and a position in full sun or partial shade[
]. It grows very poorly or not at all on soils that have been exposed to fire[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 6.5[
Plants start flowering after 3 - 4 years, and are uprooted and harvested after 8 - 12 years[
In commercial plantations, the trees are coppiced when about 6 years old[
Quinine, extracted from the bark of the tree, is used as a bitter flavouring in tonic water and carbonated drinks[
Peruvian bark has a long history of native use, especially as a treatment for fevers and malaria. Modern research has shown it to be a very effective treatment for fevers, and especially as a treatment and preventative of malaria.
The bark contains various alkaloids, particularly quinine and quinidine. Up to 70 - 80% of the total alkaloids contained in the bark are quinine[
The bark is a bitter, astringent, tonic herb that lowers fevers, relaxes spasms, is antimalarial (the alkaloid quinine) and slows the heart (the alkaloid quinidine)[
The bark is made into various preparations, such as tablets, liquid extracts, tinctures and powders[
]. It is used internally in the treatment of malaria, neuralgia, muscle cramps and cardiac fibrillation[
]. It is an ingredient in various proprietary cold and influenza remedies[
]. The liquid extract is useful as a cure for drunkenness[
]. It is also used as a gargle to treat sore throats[
Large and too constant doses must be avoided, as they produce headache, giddiness and deafness[
The powdered bark is often used in tooth-powders, owing to its astringency[
Nodal softwood cuttings[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a sandy soil[
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