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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Glycosides

Quillaia; Soap bark, Quillary bark, Panama bark; China bark, Murillo bark, Panama wood; Cortex quillaiae.





Quillaia; Soap bark, Quillary bark, Panama bark; China bark, Murillo bark, Panama wood; Cortex quillaiae.


Biological Source


Quillaia bark is the inner dried bark of Quillaia saponaria Molina and other species of Quillaia, belonging to family Rosaceae.


Geographical Source

Q.saponaria is about 18 m high evergreen, graceful tree found in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, South America and Cali-fornia.



Quillaia bark occurs in flat pieces, about 1 m long, 20 cm wide, and 3–10 cm thick. Outer surface is brownish-white, smooth and contains reddish- or blackish-brown patches of rhytidome adhere to the outer surface. The rhytidome is made of dead secondary phloem. The inner surface is yellowish-white and smooth. Fracture is splintery. Large crystals of calcium oxalate are present. Odour is sternutatory and taste is acidic and astringent.

                                 Quillaia saponaria



A transverse section of quillaia bark shows alter nating bands of lignified and nonlignified phloem. The medullary rays are usually two to four cells wide. The phloem fibres are tortuous and often accompanied by small groups of rectangular sclereids. The parenchyma contains numerous starch grains and calcium oxalate prism.


Chemical Constituents


Quillaia bark contains saponins (10%), quillaic acid, calcium oxalate, starch, sucrose and tannin. Quillaia saponin on hydrolysis forms pentacyclic triterpenoid, quillaic acid (Quillaia sapogenin), a sugar glucuronic acid and gypsogenin.


Chemical Tests

1.     Powdered drug on shaking with water produces soap like froth which persists for some time.


2.     On addition of a small portion of drug or its alcoholic extract in a drop of blood on a microscopic slide, a haemolytic zone surrounding the drug is formed.




Quillaia bark is used as an emulsifying agent, for coal tar emulsion, cleaning industrial equipments, washing delicate fabrics, to prepare tooth powders, tooth pastes, hair shampoos, hair tonics, tar solutions and metal polishes. It is added in topical preparations for skin disorders, and as a protective agent for cracks, bruises, frostbite and insect bites. The drug is highly irritating and causes nausea and is expectorant on internal consumption. It is diuretic and a cutaneous stimulant.


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