This article gives an overview of medicinal uses and poisonous properties of Gloriosa superba L., and the available literature related to these aspects drawn from studies done in areas where the species is utilized as traditional medicine or reported as poisonous. A list of 45 ethnobotanical applications practiced in 31 tropical African and Asian countries was drawn. A considerable convergence in ethnobotanical uses and practices emerged from these data. This comparative analysis strengthens the firm belief that ethnobotanical findings represent not only an important shared heritage, developed over the centuries, but also a considerable mass of data that should be exploited in order to provide new and useful knowledge of plant resources. Further ethnopharmacological studies are necessary to increase our understanding of the links between the documented traditional uses of G. superba, public health issues and its phytochemistry and pharmacological properties.
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