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Quina Roja is the bark of the Cinchona tree and native to the mountainous tropical regions of South America, especially Peru. For centuries, Peruvians, including the Incas used the bark to treat malaria, digestive problems and fevers.


It was the Incas who taught the Spanish how to use the bark. In 1640, the wife of the Viceroy of Peru, the Condesa de Chincón, sent word back to Spain extolling the wondrous powers of the bark. The remedy soon became known as "Chincona" in her honour. Later, the Jesuits brought large quantities of the powdered bark back to Europe, it was sold as "Polvos de la Condessa", translated into English as the Countess's Powders.


In the 19th century, Quinine, a natural product derived from Quina Roja, was in demand because of its antimalarial properties. Under the instruction of August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818–1892), William Henry Perkin had been experimenting with aniline, a colourless aromatic oil derived from coal tar in an attempt to synthesise quinine. But instead of synthesising quinine, Perkin discovered the purple dye mauveine.

Quina Roja dye

  • Besides its traditional medicinal uses, it has a high tannin content and achieves beautiful ranges of orange and pinks. Grey tones can be obtained with iron extract. The extract can be left to ferment to obtain darker tones.

  • Botanical name: Cinchona pubescens

    Common names: Quinine, Peruvian Bark, Jesuit’s Bark, Fever Tree, Quina Roja and Chincona

    Primary dyestuff: Bark

    Key components: Alkaloids (up to 15%) mainly quinoline alkaloids (quinine, quinidine), indole alkaloids (cinchonamine), tannins, quinic acid.

    Class of dye: Substantive dye / anthraquinoid dye can be used as a mordant.

    Light and wash-fastness: High

    Colour: Beautiful salmon hues and vintage pinks

    pH sensitivity: Medium

    Dye bath method: Suitable for a hot dyeing. The dye is a strong and one batch of wood chips can be used multiple times for lighter colours. The chips can be redried and stored for future use.

    Recommended quantity of dye:

    20% WOF powder

    25% WOF chips


    Swatch: Organic linen, habotai silk, peace silk, bamboo silk, cotton-silk, and bamboo jersey. Samples dip dyed into modified pH solutions for 5 mins. Colours achieved for reference only and we encourage you to experiment further.

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