Cinchona : Biological source, Morphological features, Chemical constituents and MCQs

Cinchona : Biological source, Morphological features, Chemical constituents and MCQs


1. Biological source:

• The botanical name of cinchona is Cinchona calisaya wedd.
• The biological source of cinchona is the dried bark of the stem or root of it.
• Commonly it is known as Peruvian or jesuit’s bark.
• It belongs to the rubiaceae family.
• Cinchona ledgeriana and Cinchona officinalis are some other species of cinchona.

2. Morphological features:

• The outer surface of it is yellowish to green color and they have short fractures .
• Inner surface is different in different species .it is striated and varies in color from yellow to brown to deep reddish to brown.
• Fractures are short at outer part but fibrous in the inner part.
• The root bark is channelled or often twisted about 2-7 cm long .
• Odour is distinctive and the taste is highly bitter and astringent.
• Shape is curved, quill or double quill.
• Size is 30 cm long and 2-7 mm thick.
• At the outer surface longitudinal and transverse cracks, fissures or ridges are present.
• It is a flowering tree or shrub.
• They have evergreen foliage having height 5 -15 m .
• Leaves have opposite arrangement.
• The shape of leaves are rounded to lanceolate.
• Leaves are 10-40cm long.
• The color of flowers are white, pink or red and produced in terminal panicles.
• Fruit contain small capsule and have numerous seeds.
• Their flowers have marginally hairy corolla lobes.
• The stem bark contain moss or lichen at the outer surface.
• It may or may not be longitudinally wrinkled .

3. Chemical constituents:

• Alkaloid is the major chemical constituent of cinchona.
• It consist of approximately 30 types of alkaloids.
• Quinidine, quinine, cinchonine and cinchonidine are some commonly found alkaloids in cinchona bark.
• These four chemical constituents present in bark are stereoisomers of each other.
• Other chemical constituent present in cinchona are quiniarnine, cinchotine, hydroquinine, hydrocinchonidine and cinchotannic acid.
• In quinine and quinidine ,methoxy group is present but in chichonine and cinchonidine there are no methoxy group present.
• Bitter glycoside and starch grains are also present in cinchona.
• They also consist of calcium oxalate and crystalline acid like quinic acid.
• They contain not less than 6.5% of total alkaloids.
• 30-60% quinine is present in total alkaloids.

4. Uses:

• Cinchona mainly used for its antimalarial activity and it is used as antimalarial drug.
• It also have analgesic, antipyretic and protoplasmic properties.
• It is used as bitter stomachic and tonic.
• The chief chemical constituent of cinchona, quinidine contain cardiac depressant property.
• It is used to treat rheumatism and neuralgia,
• It is used to treat cardiac arrhythmia.
• It is also used as antiseptic and useful in disease like abscesses, cavities and ulcers.
• It is used to treat dyspepsia and gastric catarrh.

5. Adulterants:

Maracaibo bark used as an adulterant of cinchona bark.


1. What is the botanical name of cinchona?
(a) Platycodon grandiflorus
(b) Dicenta spectabilis
(c) Celosia cristata
(d) Cinchona calisaya

2. What is the biological source of cinchona?
(a) Bark of Root
(b) Bark of Stem
(c) Leaves
(d) Both a and b

3. Match the following with respect to the chemical constituents of plants.
I. Vinca                                                                                  A.Protopine
II. Opium                                                                              B. Vindoline
III. Cinchona                                                                        C. Conimine
IV. Kurchi                                                                             D.Quinine


4. Choose incorrect statement with respect to medicinal uses of plants.
i. Kurchi is used to treat diarrhea.
ii. Cinchona is used to treat cancer.
iii. Vinca is used to treat lymphomas.
iv. Ephedra is used to treat cancer.

(a) Both i and ii
(b) Only ii
(c) Both iii and iv
(d) Only iv

5. Cinchona is used to treat
(a) Malaria
(b) Dyspepsia
(c) Gastric catarrh
(d) All of the above

6. The outer surface of cinchona bark are
(a) Yellowish to green in color
(b) Consist of short fractures
(c) Different in various species
(d) Both a and b

7. What is the shape of leaves of cinchona shrub?
(a) Needle shape
(b) Elliptic shape
(c) Palm shape
(d) Rounded to lanceolate

8. What is the common adulterants of cinchona?
(a) Indigo dye
(b) Gypsum
(c) Maracaibo bark
(d) Prussian blue dye

9. What are the chemical constituent of cinchona?

(a) Quinine
(b) Quinidine
(c) Cinchonine
(d) All of the above

10. Cinchona contain properties of
(a) Antipyretic
(b) Analgesic
(c) Protoplasmic
(d) All of the above


1. (d)
2. (d)
3. (c)
4. (b)
5. (d)
6. (d)
7. (d)
8. (c)
9. (d)
10. (d)


Evans W.C, Editors. Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy , New York, Saunders Elsevier; 2009, p.404-407.

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