Botanical Name: Coutarea hexandra
*Bignonia triflora Pav. ex DC.
*Cinchona souzana (Mart.) Brign.
*Coutarea alba Griseb.
*Coutarea campanilla DC.
*Coutarea corymbosa Brign.
*Coutarea flavescens Sessé & Moc. ex DC.
*Coutarea lindeniana Baill.
Common Names: Coutarea
Habitat: Coutarea hexandra is native to S. America – Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America – Panama to Mexico; Caribbean- Trinidad. It grows in moist soils in alluvial river valleys and near rivers, in both dense, primary forests and the more open, secondary formations, generally preferring more open, sunny positions. Thickets in Panama.
Coutarea hexandra is a semideciduous plant. It can vary in habit from a shrub, that can often produce stems that scramble into the surrounding vegetation, to a more tree-like form with a very dense, globose crown. The tree-form can grow 4 – 6 metres tall and has a short, usually crooked bole 15 – 25cm in diameter. In some areas, such as Costa Rica, specimens up to 18 metres tall have occasionally been recorded.
The plant is much used as a substitute for quinine when treating malaria. It is commonly harvested from the wild for this purpose and also for its wood. An ornamental plant, its small size makes it suitable for planting in narrow streets and under power lines.
The plant has a very wide range but, in areas such as Brazil, the population has been drastically reduced because the plants have been cut down for their medicinal uses
The stem bark is bitter, febrifuge, stomachic and tonic. It can be used as a substitute for quinine (Cinchona spp.) when treating malaria, and is also used for treating swamp fever. The root bark is mixed in a decoction with stem bark and then used as an antidiabetic and vermifuge. The plant is a rich source of neoflavonoids and their glycosides. One of the compounds in the plant has been shown to exert a relaxing effect upon the trachea. The plant extract has been shown to be antiinflammatory.
Other Uses The wood is of medium and uniform texture, moderately heavy, hard, flexible, with moderate mechanical properties and not very durable. The wood is usually too small to be of much use apart from items such as tool handles. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal.