Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali



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Balanitaceae


[often included under Zygophyllaceae]
Balanites

Balanites aegyptiaca 50116

records: ubiquitous from Timbuktu-Gao to Dogon country (JH)

habitat: arid sandy thorn scrub, often co-dominant with Acacia tortilis

notes: tree, decumbent branches, long thorns, fruits with tan-colored exterior look vaguely like dates

ethnobotany: pulp around pit can be sucked; nut inside pit can be eaten as an almond; oil is pressed from the nut; dried nuts are boiled with Balanites pits and liquid soda ash to make a black soap


Bignoniaceae


(trees, opposite imparipennate leaves)
Kigelia

Kigelia africana 50117 (“sausage tree”)

records: Timbuktu, Gourma, El Massara (Boudet); rare along Niger R near Timbuktu, one or two at Tupere and Anda (JH)

habitat: wet areas

notes: tree to 15 m; leaf 15-30 cm long with 2-4 pairs of leaflets, which are oval-elliptical 5-12 cm x 3-7 cm, more or less rounded but s.t. with slight dentations, about 8 well-developed secondary nerves; petiole 2-10 cm before first leaflets, base of petiole thickened with white spots; young branches grey with white spots; purple-red flower with tubular corolla, 3-4 cm wide; woody “sausage” fruits 30-40 cm x 7-8 cm, exterior light grey, on long peduncle 40-50 cm
Stereospermum

Stereospermum kunthianum 50118

records: Hombori, Sotuba, Kayes, Kati (Boudet); Hombori, Dianwely (rare), Walo, Pergue (ravine), Bendiely (JH)

habitat: sandy or clayey depressions, gravely and lateritic soil (Boudet); scattered in northern Dogon country (JH)

notes: tree to 5-10 m; leaf with 3-6 pairs of leaflets, which are oval-elliptical 6-10 cm x 3-5 cm, those on side somewhat disymmetric at base; 7-10 secondary nerves; petiole 2-5 cm before first pair of leaflets; flowers pink or mauve, in wide panicles when tree is defoliated; fruit long and thin 25-30 cm x 0.7-0.8 cm, crooked

native terms: Dogon “popolo” (C-G)


Bombacaceae


[now s.t. included under Malvaceae s.l. as tribe Bombacoideae]

(tall trees, digitate alternate leaves with 5-9 leaflets radiating from central axis)


Adansonia

Adansonia digitata 50119 (“baobab”)

records: Niono, San, Djenne (Boudet); common in the zone Mopti to Bandiagara and very common father south, now rare around Douentza or Hombori except when planted in towns (JH)

habitat: lightly forested plains

notes: tree with irregular but massive trunk, unmistakable aspect; leaves with 5-7 leaflets, leaflets getting much smaller toward the base; enormous ovoid fruit hanging down 15-25 cm long

terminology: often a special term for the fruit (50120)

ethnobotany: leaves are the main ingredient in the most common sauce for the staple Dogon and Songhay meal (millet cakes), so the tree is well-known far to the north of its range (subject of songs in Hassaniya Arabic in Timbuktu area); white substance in fruits is eaten
Bombax

Bombax costatum 50121 (Fr “kapokier”)

records: Sotuba, Niono, Bandiagara, Yanfolila (Boudet); Songho, southern Mali (JH)

habitat: lateritic soil, plains

notes: tree 10-25 m; leaf usually with 5 (but up to 7) leaflets of roughly equal size, obovate, 10-15 cm x 3-7 cm, noticeably widest about 2/3 up from base to tip; tip acuminate but rounded just at the tip; red flowers conspicuous December-January when tree is defoliated; fruit is pod 10-12 cm long with black seeds surrounded by silky fibers (“kapok”)
Ceiba

Ceiba pentandra 50122 (Fr “fromager”)

records: Sanga, Gao, Kita (Boudet); planted in villages in northern Dogon country, e.g. Douentza, Songho, Bamba (JH)

habitat: edge of ponds

notes: huge tree to 20-30 m or more, massive trunk expanding outward toward base; leaf with 5-9 elliptic-lanceolate leaves 4 times as long as wide, acuminate tip; petiole 10-25 cm, thickening somewhat at both ends; greenish-white flower in January when tree is leafless; pod 12-15 cm long with black seeds surrounded by silky fibers

Boraginaceae

Coldenia


Coldenia procumbens 50123

records: Gao, Kabara, lac Faguibine, Dire

habitat: wet areas, mud

notes: prostrate herb; leaves alternate; leaf oval 1-2.5 cm x 1-2 cm with edges dentate or folded, leaves silvery (covered with white hairs on both sides); hairy stems; small yellow flowers, barely visible under stems; capsules with 4 horns


Cordia

Cordia myxa 50124 (planted)

records: Sotuba, Birgo (Boudet); Dianwely and Beni near Douentza (JH)

notes: small tree 3-15 m; leaves alternate, widely oval, 7-10 cm x 6-8 cm; white flowers in terminal panicle; drupe (pit covered with sweet viscous pulp) 2 cm x 1.5 cm, yellow-orange at maturity, blackens when dry

ethnobotany: mainly used to make a glue from the fruits, in Dianwely the tree is known as colle (Fr for ‘glue’)

Cordia senegalensis

records: none (Boudet)

habitat: in Senegal, often at base of termitaries

notes: small tree; alternate leaves oval, glabrous, not dentate, with acuminate point

Cordia sinensis 50125

records: Niafounke, Zinguetti, Bandiagara, Gossi (Boudet); Kikara, Tupere, Dianwely (not generally known farther south)

habitat: wooded savanna

notes: small tree 3-5 m; leaves may be opposite, subopposite, or alternate; leaf elliptical 5-8 cm x 3-5 cm, scabrous on top, upper part of leaf usually with some dentations; flowers in clusters at ends of branches; red-orange fruits, with viscous flesh
Heliotropium

Heliotropium bacciferum (see H. ramosissimum)

Heliotropium baclei (var. baclei and var. rostratum)

records: Ansongo, Gao, Mopti, Macina, Sotuba (Boudet)

habitat: wet areas

notes: small annual herb, erect or spreading; small oval leaf 1-1.5 cm x 5-9 mm; isolated small axillary white flowers

Heliotropium indicum 50126

records: Bamako, Segou, Goundam (Boudet); Djenne, Tin Hamma north of Gao (JH)

habitat: wet areas

notes: annual herb to 30-60 cm; leaves opposite, then becoming alternate; broad oval leaf 6-15 cm x 3-10 cm, widest near base, pubescent; stem hairy; flowers white or bluish, in two rows on scorpion-tail flower spike 20-30 cm long

Heliotropium ovalifolium 50128

records: Timbuktu, Gourma Rharous, lac Faguibine (Boudet); Labbezanga (JH)

habitat: wet areas

notes: herb, more or less perennial, to 30-50 cm, erect; leaves alternate; leaf elliptical or slightly oval, 1-3 cm x 0.5-1.5 cm, tapered base; white flowers in one row on scorpion-tail spikes in pairs 2-10 cm long

Heliotropium pterocarpum [get description]

records: Gao, Dire, Niafounke, Bossobougou (Boudet)

habitat: sandy

Heliotropium ramosissimum 50129 (in Berhaut as H. bacciferum, syn also H. undulatum)

records: Timbuktu, Goundam, Dire, Adrar, Rharous (Boudet); mainly in far north (Timbuktu, Gao), also observed in Waami north of Hombori, not known in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: perennial herb 15-50 cm, spreading; alternate leaves; elliptical or lanceolate leaf 4-8 cm x 8-15 with coarse hairs on both sides (cf. H. zeylanicum), in upper leaves with not much of a distinct petiole, lower leaves with petiole to 8-12 mm in rainy season; edge of leaf slightly undulating (esp. in dry season); white flowers densely packed in two rows in small scorpion-tail spikes, often several spikes branching near tip of each branch

Heliotropium strigosum 50130

records: Bamako, Sofara, Sanga, Gourma, Tin Tadeni (Boudet); Perge (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: annual herb 10-25 cm; leaves alternate; leaf linear-lanceolate 2-3 cm x 3-6 mm; little or no petiole; small white flowers in one row, spaced out on spiciform spike only slightly curved at top



Heliotropium subulatum (see H. zeylanicum)

Heliotropium supinum

records: Gourma, In Tillit (Boudet); Douentza in drying pond (JH)

habitat: clayey soils near water

notes: spreading annual herb, leaves opposite or alternate; oval leaf 1.5-2 cm x 1-2 cm; some hairs between nerves on top, bottom pubescent; petiole 3-10 mm and stem pubescent; few small white flowers in scorpion-tail spike at tip or below.

Heliotropium undulatum (see H. ramosissimum)

Heliotropium zeylanicum 50131 (in Berhaut as H. subulatum)

records: Niafounke, Hombori (Boudet); Waami near Hombori (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: annual herb 30-60 cm, alternate leaves; leaf lanceolate 5-9 cm x 8-15 cm with coarse hairs on both sides (cf. H. ramosissimum); yellow-green flowers spaced out on scorpion-tail spike 10-20 cm, curled at tip, usually three spikes per branch; corolla lobes with long filiform points
Moltkiopsis

Moltkiopsis ciliata (syn Moltkia ciliata) (Saharan sp.)

records: Touetat, Azawad (Boudet)

habitat: coarse-grained sand (semi-gravelly)


Rotula

Rotula aquatica

records: Koulikoro, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: in stream beds, s.t. half-submerged

notes: shrub 1-1.5 m; leaves alternate or opposite; obovate or oblanceolate leaf 2-3 cm x 0.5-1.5 cm; petiole not always distinct; pinkish flowers; capsule
Trichodesma

Trichodesma africanum 50132

records: Mopti, Hombori, Gao, Niafounke (Boudet); Hombori (JH)

habitat: sandy or sandy-clayey

notes: annual herb ½ to 1 m, leaves opposite; leaf oval or widely lanceolate 5-12 cm x 2-7 cm; coarse leaf covered with hairs, also on edge of leaf; petiole 1-6 cm and stem covered with white points with semi-thorny hairs; flower white or bluish with yellow inside

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