Specimen jar containing follicles of strophanthus from Lourenco Marques, 1893
The seeds, flowers, bark and root of the Strophanthus plant are all used in traditional medicine in parts of Africa. Native to the continent, the plant has to be skilfully prepared as it is toxic if taken in too high a dose. The plant is boiled, mulched or roasted and the resulting mixture is inhaled, eaten, bathed in, or used as a lotion on the body. This sample was collected from Lourenço Marques (modern day Mapto) in Mozambique in 1893.
Strophanthus is the basis for a drug in the West known as strophanthin. It is used as a heart stimulant, an example of a similar treatment being used across different medical traditions.