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The genus Cinchona includes at least 23 species of trees and shrubs that are native to the Andes of South America and the mountains of southern Central America. The trees have showy white, pink, or purple flowers that are generally pollinated by butterflies and hummingbirds, and dry capsular fruits with flat, papery seeds that disperse on the wind. Most of the species are found in Ecuador and Peru.
The bark of several species of Cinchona has been the source for several centuries of the febrifuge chemical quinine, effective against malaria. In the Andes the bark has been widely harvested from wild Cinchona trees, which has reduced their populations. Several species and numerous hybrids have been cultivated in warm humid regions world wide, particularly India and southeastern Asia.