Pharmacological potential and conservation prospect of the genus Eucomis (Hyacinthaceae) endemic to southern Africa

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):44-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.002. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: The genus Eucomis (Hyacinthaceae) consists of 10 species that are extensively used in African traditional medicine. This review is an appraisal of current information on the distribution and morphology, traditional uses, pharmacology, toxicology and approaches devised to enhance the conservation of the genus.

Methods: A systematic and comprehensive literature search using electronic searches such as Scopus, Google Scholar, Web of Science and ethnobotanical books was conducted.

Results: Evidence from traditional medicine usage shows wide utilization of this genus for ailments such as respiratory, venereal diseases, rheumatism as well as kidney and bladder infections. Pharmacological screening reported antimicrobial, antiplasmodial, antitumor, cytotoxic, phytotoxic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Conclusions: The potential of the genus Eucomis especially in terms of pharmacology cannot be overemphasized. Apart from the anti-inflammatory properties, the antifungal activity of Eucomis remains a valuable reservoir with potential application in the agriculture sector as a source of an affordable biocontrol agent. Based on the speculated toxic constituents in the genus Eucomis, it will be valuable to conduct detailed toxicological studies. Extensive utilization of members of the genus Eucomis is causing severe strain on wild populations. Although conventional propagation has been relatively effective in the alleviation of the declining status, micropropagation of members may be vital to guarantee the conservation of wild populations.

Keywords: 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate; 2,4-D; 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid; 2-iP; ABA; Anti-inflammatory; Antimicrobial; BA; COX; Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource; DCM; GA(3); GA(4) and GA(7) gibberellin mixture; GA(4+7); IAA; IBA; IUCN; MIC; MS; MeJa; MeOH; Medicinal plant; Murashige and Skoog (1962); N(6)-Isopentenyladenine; NAA; NSAIDs; PAA; PBZ; Pineapple lily; Propagation; TPA; Toxicology; abscisic acid; benzyladenine; cyclooxygenase; dichloromethane; gibberellic acid; indole acetic acid; indole butyric acid; mT; meta-Topolin; methanol; methyl jasmonate; minimum inhibitory concentration; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; paclobutrazol; phenylacetic acid; α-naphthalene acetic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Humans
  • Liliaceae / chemistry*
  • Liliaceae / physiology*
  • Medicine, African Traditional
  • Plant Preparations / chemistry*
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*


  • Plant Preparations