Cinchona plants are native of South America. There has been wide speculation, both contending and contradictory, about the origin of Cinchona. It is, however, an undisputed and accepted fact that the virtues of the bark were originally known to the Incas of Peru. Suffice at this stage to emphasize that the Peruvian bark (Jesuits bark) had the miraculous properties to cure the ancient scourge of mankind viz. the Pernicious Malaria.
This bark with its miraculous power to cure, came to be known as Quinquina in French, based on its name Kinakina in the Quincha language of incas and Cina in Spanish. It was the Botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who in 1742 established the botanical genus Cinchona.
The Cinchona cultivation in Bengal Presidency begun under the direction of Dr.Thomas Anderson, the then Superintendent of the Royal Botanical Garden, Calcutta. The first Cinchona seeds received by Dr.Anderson were sent by Sir W.J.Hooker to the Botanical Garden. Culcutta in 1861. These were multiplied at Culcutta Botanical Garden. In the same year Dr. Anderson was sent to Java by the then Supreme Government of India with the double objective of familiarising himself with the Dutch mode of Cultivation and of convening to India the plants which the Governor of that Colony had generously offered to the Govt. of India. Dr. Anderson brought 50 plants of C. calisaya, 284 of C.pahudiana and only 4 of C. lancifolia and handed over the same to Mr. A.G.Mc. Ivor at Ootakamund wherefrom he took 193 plants of C. succirubra to cultivate in Bengal. Dr. Anderson started his experimental trial for cultivation of Cinchona in Darjeeling hills of Bengal and ultimately selected Mungpoo Hills in 1862 for commercial cultivation. Subsequently to the death of Dr. Anderson, the plantation had been under the charge of Dr. Anderson’s successor like Mr. D.B.Clarke during 1870 and 1871 and Dr. George King later. The successful establishment of Cinchona plantation at Mangpoo was made by Dr. Anderson in 1864. Subsequently Munsong plantation started in 1901, Rongo in 1938, Latpanchor in 1943 and Ambotia in 1977.