The fever tree is able to acquire nutrients by means of photosynthesis.  This means that the tree is an autotrophic or is "self feeding."  The tree is able to use the energy of the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar.  Oxygen is a byproduct of the process.  The leaves of the fever tree contain numerous chloroplasts which are the site of photosynthesis.  The leaves have a waxy cuticle covering the surface of the leaves to prevent them from drying out.  The carbon dioxide is not able to pass through the waxy surface, but is able to pass through an opening on the leaf surface called a stoma.  The other component necessary for photosynthesis, water, is absorbed by the roots of the tree.  The water is pulled up in structures called xylem to the site of photosynthesis by capillary action. 

Cultivated Cinchona pubescens prospers in high altitudes at an average temperature of 16-21° C and requires a high level of humidity as well as an annual rainfall of 2.5-3.5 cm.  The tree is not able to endure temperatures below 8° C or above 26° C.  The consequences of low altitudes or limited moisture cause the amount of alkaloids in the bark to decrease (which also decreases the amount of quinine).  Cinchona pubescens grows well in fresh, virgin forest soils that have large amounts of organic matter.  The tree is able to absorb the organic matter as well as other nutrients through the roots and up the tree by structures called phloem.

The fever tree also acquires more nutrients via a mutualistic relationship with a fungus which is discussed in more detail on the Interactions page.  While this relationship is on your mind, go to Interactions next.

Back to Home.