Pharmacognosy of Cinchona: Characteristics, Constituents and Uses

In this resource, I am explaining the pharmacognosy of Cinchona. Cinchona has antimalarial properties and is thus mainly used to treat fever and as an analgesic. Read this post to know more about the characteristics, constituents and uses of Cinchona.

A lot of drugs in pharmacognosy have medicinal properties. Best things about these is that they have almost no side effects. That is a big advantage if we compare it with allopathic medicines. In this resource, I had discussed about cinchona.

Synonym: Jesuit's bark, Peruvian bark

Biological Source: Cinchona is obtained from the barks of Cinchona succirubra.

Cultivation, Collection and Preparation

  1. Cinchona requires acidic soil and sufficient soil for proper growth.

  2. It also requires sufficient altitude.

  3. Proper measures should be taken to avoid any disease in Cinchona. A disease named stripe cancer is quite common with this plant. It is caused due to a phytopathogenic fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi. The disease is characterized by the presence of necrotic stripes in the bark.

Macroscopic Characters

Stem-Bark: The quills are about 30 cm long and 2-6 mm thick. Lichen is present in huge quality on the outside surface. The taste of the stem bark is bitter and astringent.

Root-Bark: Root bark is found in twisted pieces. Length is about 3-6 cm and the inner surface is striated.

Microscopical Characters

  1. Crystals of calcium oxalate are present in the cortex.

  2. The phloem fibers are spindle shaped. However, the distribution of phloem fibres varies among the different species of Cinchona.

  3. Starch grains are about 6-10 cm diameter.

Chemical Constituents

The primary alkaloids in cinchona are quinine and quinidine. Moreover, cinchonidine and cinchonine are also present in good quantity. Again, the amount of alkaloids present differs from one variety to another.
Other constituents are quinic acid, cinchotannic acid and quinovin. Quinovine on hydrolysis gives quinovaic acid and quinovose (isorhodeose).

Chemical Tests

  1. Cinchona when heated in a test tube with glacial acetic acid results in blood red tubes on the side of the test tube.

  2. After moistening cinchona bark with sulphuric acid, if the bark is obtained in UV light, it gives blue fluorescence.

  3. Cinchona on treatment with bromine water and dilute ammonia solution gives emerald green color. This is also known as Thalleoquin test.

  4. The drug when treated with silver nitrate solution gives white precipitate. It occurs due to presence of quinidine.


Cinchona has a number of uses and it can be used to treat a variety of diseases. Here are some of the uses:
  1. Cinchona bark has antimalarial properties. It also used in fever to reduce the body temperature and as an analgesic.

  2. The drug is also useful in cases related to cardiac problems like arrhythmia.

  3. The drug is also used as an antiseptic and has been found to be useful in diseases like abscesses, cavities, and ulcers.

  4. It is useful in dyspepsia and gastric catarrh.


The various substitutes of Cinchina are:
  1. Cinchona lancifolia, (Colombian bark),

  2. C. ovata (Naranjada bak),

  3. Remija pedunculata (Cuprea bark) and

  4. Remija purdieana


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