capitalized: a large genus of South American trees and shrubs of the madder family
: a tree of the genus Cinchona
: the dried bark of any of several trees of the genus Cinchona (especially C. ledgeriana and C. succirubra or their hybrids) containing alkaloids (as quinine, cinchonine, quinidine, and cinchonidine) and being used especially formerly as a specific in malaria, an antipyretic in other fevers, and a tonic and stomachic—called also cinchona bark, Jesuits' bark, Peruvian bark
Biographical Note for CINCHONA
Chin·chón\chin-ˈchōn\ , Countess of (Doña Francisca Henriquez de Ribera) vicereine. According to a legend first given out in 1663 and supposedly based on a now-lost letter, Countess Chinchón, the wife of the viceroy of Peru, fell ill with malaria. The governor of a neighboring province quickly provided a remedy in the form of a certain tree bark. The countess experienced a seemingly miraculous recovery, and word of the bark's extraordinary powers quickly spread. The name of the countess henceforth became associated with the bark. While the story is apocryphal, Linnaeus perpetuated the name of the countess, albeit in misspelled form, by designating the genus of that tree Cinchona in her honor.
Any of about 40 species, mostly trees, that make up the genus Cinchona in the madder family. Cinchona is native to the Andes Mountains. Four species have been cultivated in tropical regions for hundreds of years, mostly in Java and, since World War II, in Africa. The bark is processed to obtain various alkaloids. The most significant are quinine, used to treat malaria, and quinidine, used mainly for cardiac rhythmic disorders. High demand for quinine among Europeans living in the tropics led naturalists to smuggle cinchona seeds from South America to plantations in Asia in the mid 1800s and to conduct intensive research leading to new high-yield strains and improved processing methods.