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Published In: Skrifter af Naturhistorie-Selskabet 1: 19. 1790. (Skr. Naturhist.-Selsk.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 1/19/2011)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 2/18/2011)

This species is a tree of mountain forests with showy, usually pink flowers and capsular woody fruits. This is the most commonly collected species of Cinchona as well as the most widely distributed geographically and ecologically. This species can generally be recognized within Cinchona by its relatively broad, thin-textured, pubescent leaves that are obtuse to rounded at the apex, its multiflowered inflorescences, and its medium-sized to rather large (for Cinchona) corollas that are usually pink to purplish. Cinchona pubescens is variable morphologically. Andersson (1998) noted, as discussed further in the notes for this genus, that many species of Cinchona including this one hybridize locally to produce populations that are difficult to assign to a particular species. He circumscribed C. pubescens quite broadly, and the native plants may deserve review now that many more specimens are available for study.

Cinchona pubescens is one of the main commercial sources of the antimalarial febrifuge quinine, which is found in commerically usefl quantities in its bark. Quinine is produced from cultivated trees not only of this species, but also of Cinchona calisaya and numerous hybrids between these and some other Cinchona species.

Cinchona pubescens is similar to C. micrantha of Peru; however C. micrantha can be recognized by its smaller white flowers, with the calyx limb and corolla tube both shorter than those of C. pubescens.

Distribution: This species is considered native in the mountains of northern Costa Rica through Panama, and the Andes of Colombia and Venezuela to Bolivia, in general at 600-3300 m. This species is also an invasive weed in some tropical islands, in particular in the Galapagos.


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Trees or shrubs up to 10 m tall; branchlets pilosulous, tomentulose, or puberulous or rarely glabrescent. Leaves with blades elliptic, broadly elliptic, ovate, or suborbicular, 5-15 x 2-10 cm, drying membranaceous to thinly papery, densely tomentulose or pilosulous to puberulous or rarely glabrescent, at base cuneate to truncate or occasionally subcordate, at apex rounded to obtuse; secondary veins 7-11 pairs, without domatia or these reduced; petioles 1.2-5 cm long, densely pubescent or occasionally glabrescent; stipules obovate to ligulate, 12-26 cm long, variously pubescent or rarely glabrescent, at apex subacute to usually broadly rounded. Inflorescences 5-25 x 5-25 cm. Flowers with hypanthium 1.8-3.3 mm long, densely pilosulous to tomentulose or puberulous; calyx limb 1.3-2.8 mm long, lobed for up to 1/3 of its length, the lobes triangular, acute; corolla salverform, white or usually pink to purple, outside pilosulous or strigillose or occasionally glabrescent, inside densely pubescent in throat and on lobes, tube 9-14 mm long, lobes triangular, 4-6 mm long, acute; anthers 2.8-3.9 mm long; stigmas 1.5-4 mm long. Fruits capsular, narrowly ellipsoid to nearly cylindrical or sometimes lanceoloid (i.e., widest below the middle), 13-41 x 5-7 mm, stiffly papery, dehiscent from the base (or sometimes immature capsules opening prematurely also from the apex); seeds 8-12 x 2-3 mm, flattened, small, irregularly elliptic to oblong, marginally winged and often irregularly incised or erose.


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