Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali



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Fabaceae--Mimosoideae (= Mimosaceae)


[flowers have small petals and numerous prominent stamens]
subfamilies: Acacieae, Ingeae (Albizia), Mimoseae, Parkieae
scrambling shrubs forming impenetrable thorny thickets: A. ataxacantha, A. erythrocalyx

trees, by flowers

globular white: Acacia erythrocalyx, sieberiana, tortilis

globular yellow Acacia amythetophylla, ehrenbergiana, nilotica, seyal

globular pink/red Mimosa, Parkia

white cylindrical spike Acacia ataxacantha, dudgeoni, macrostachya, senegal; Faidherbia albida

yellow spike Prosopis

white umbel Albizzia

mauve and yellow spike Dichrostachys

fascicle of yellow spikes Entada

trees, by pods

flattened, straight Acacia ataxacantha, macrostachya, pennata, senegal; Albizia; Entada (enormous, breaking off at joints); Parkia

flattened, straight, lobed Acacia dudgeoni, nilotica

flattened, arc’ed Acacia senegal (s.t.)

robust, straight Acacia sieberiana

robust, arc’ed at tip Prosopis africana

robust, short, hairy Mimosa

robust, curved (C-shape) Faidherbia

thin, curling (spiral) Acacia tortilis

thin, clustered, curling Acacia ehrenbergiana (long thin pods 7-10 cm), seyal (long thin pods 10-15 cm); Dichrostachys (short thick pods)


Acacieae
Acacia

subgenus Aculeiferum (also A. gourmaensis, A. mellifera)

Acacia dudgeoni (also spelled dudgeonii) (syn A. senegal var. samoryana)

records: Bougouni, Ouarsada (Boudet); none (JH)

notes: tree; bipinnate leaf 3-7 cm long with 20 pairs of pinnae, and 20-30 pairs of leaflets per pinna, leaflet 0.8 cm x 0.3 cm; white cylindrical flower spike (raceme) 2.5-6 cm long; fruit flattened, papery, like A. senegal but not pubescent

Acacia laeta 50365 (syn A. senegal var. laeta) [not distinguished from A. senegal in Berhaut]

records: Hombori, Bourem, Gao (Boudet); northern Dogon country (JH)

notes: small tree; leaf bipinnate 1-4 cm long, 2-5 pairs of pinnae each with 2-5 pairs of leaflets; leaflets asymmetrically oblong 0.6-1.2 cm x 0.3-0.5 cm; flattened apiculate pod

ethnobotany: second-best tree for gum arabic (cf. A. senegal)

Acacia senegal var. senegal 50366 (see also A. laeta, A dudgeoni)

records: Niono, Tasséguéla, Timbuktu (Boudet); present but rare in northern Dogon country (JH)

notes: tree 2-6 m, may form thickets; leaf bipinnate, with 3-6 pairs of pinnulae each having 10-20 pairs of leaflets, tiny leaflet 0.3-0.7 cm x 0.1-0.2 mm; white cylindrical flower spike; flattened pod, pubescent, 7-10 cm

ethnobotany: best source of gum arabic (but cf. A. laeta)
other subgenera

Acacia albida (see Faidherbia albida)

Acacia amythetophylla 50367 (syn A. macrothyrsa) [not in Berhaut]

records: Sikasso (Boudet); Tin Hamma north of Gao, Tupere, Kikara, Anda (JH)

habitat: inselberg slopes (JH)

notes: tree (habit resembles Albizia chevalieri); few thorns; unusually large leaves (arc-ing slightly down); large flower panicles; globular yellow flowers; flat pods

native names: sometimes forms a native taxonomic group with A. erythrocalyx, A. ataxacantha, and A. macrostachya; cognates of terms for A. amythetophylla may refer to Albizia

Acacia ataxacantha 50368 (similar in habit to A. erythrocalyx, distinguished by inflorescence shape and by color of branches)

records: Bandiagara to Mopti, Bamako, Niono, Ouan Foras (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Kikara, Anda, Sangha, Walo, Djenne (JH)

habitat: depressions and on inselberg slopes, associated with A. erythrocalyx (JH)

notes: scrambling shrub, many thorns, forms impenetrable thickets; silvery trunks and smaller branches (but twigs may be reddish); white cylindrical flower spike

native term: often combined with A. erythrocalyx, sometimes also with A. macrostachya and/or A. amythetophylla

Acacia ehrenbergiana 50357 (leaves and flowers similar to A. seyal but leaves smaller and trunk dark)

records: Hombori, Gao, Ansongo to Tillabery (Boudet); Menaka, Gao, Hombori, a few near Kikara, then it seems to disappear farther south (one tree left at Tupere, not widely known in Douentza area or father south) (JH)

habitat: in plains, clayey-rocky and sandy soils

notes: tree somewhat flat-topped (umbrella-shaped), trunk dark, tiny leaves, thorns longer than leaves (at least on young branches), globular yellow flowers, thin pods in clumps

taxonomy: close to A. seyal in leaf shape, but very different bark

Acacia erythrocalyx 50369 (syn A. pennata [thus Berhaut]) (habit similar to A. ataxacantha)

records: Djenné, Sanga, Macina (Boudet); Menaka, Kikara, Anda, Wakara, Boui, Djenne, San (JH)

habitat: depressions and on inselberg slopes, associated with A. ataxacantha (JH)

notes: scrambling shrub, forms impenetrable thickets (cf. A. ataxacantha); trunk and branches dark brown, twigs brown with lighter longitudinal streaks; globular white flowers

Acacia kirkii var. kirkii

records: Macina, Mopti to Djenné (Boudet); along Bani and Niger Rivers from Djenné to Timbuktu, only zone in W Africa (but also quite separately in Zimbabwe)

Acacia macrostachya 50371

records: Macina, Sanga, Koulouba (Boudet); Kiri near Koro, Diangassagou area (JH)

notes: self-standing tree 3-78 m (unlike A. ataxacantha, A. erythrocalyx), trunk can be massive; thorns larger and fewer than A. ataxacantha; long leaf 12-20 cm with 15-20 pairs of pinnules 3-5 cm long, each pinnule with 30-40 pairs of linear leaflets 0.4-0.6 cm x barely 0.1 cm; cylindrical flower spike, white then yellow; flattened pod, 8-15 cm x 0.7-0.8 cm, hard, with 7-8 grains

native term: sometimes grouped with A. ataxacantha and A. erythrocalyx



Acacia macrothyrsa (see A. amythetophylla)

Acacia nilotica 50358 (three subsp. based on form of pod)

habitat: usually near water (JH)

notes: tall tree 5-20 m with dense spherical crown; young trees have long thorns, disappearing in older trees; bipinnate leaf with 3-6 pairs of pinnulae, each with 10-30 pairs of leaflets; leaflets 0.4-0.5 cm long; globular yellow flowers, more or less straight pods

subsp. adstringens (pod softly tomentose, lightly constricted)

records: Bamako, Sanga, Gao (Boudet); Timbuktu, Hombori, Kikara, Wakara, Sevare (JH)

habitat: sandy-clayey zones near ponds and rivers, occasional in fields

subsp. nilotica (pod glabrous, moniliform, i.e. in “pearl string” form)

records: Gao (Boudet)

subsp. tomentosa (pod softly tomentose, deeply constricted like necklace beads)

records: Gao (Boudet)

Acacia pennata (see A. erythrocalyx)

Acacia seyal var. seyal 50359 (similar to A. ehrenbergiana but bark smooth and light-colored)

records: Segou, Timbuktu, Niono, Gossi (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Dianwely, Sevare area (JH)

habitat: clayey soils, areas with limestone, shallow depressions

notes: in this area has unusual greenish-white bark (only such acacia in zone), sometimes lightly covered by a rusty-red substance; thorns shorter than leaves; globular yellow flowers

taxonomy: leaves similar to A. ehrenbergiana, but bark quite different

ethnobotany: pods used medicinally, and in tanning hides

Acacia sieberiana 50362 (also spelled sieberana) (“white thorn”)

records: Anda, Songho, Djenne, San, absent from northern Dogon country (JH)

var. sieberiana

records: Bamako, Kita (Boudet)

var. villosa

records: Bandiagara, Koulikoro (Boudet)

notes: tall tree to 15-25 m with straight trunk up to 60 cm diameter, large canopy, fissured bark, white thorns (cf. A. tortilis) in axillary pairs up to 6-10 cm (thorns may be short or absent); bipinnate leaf rachis 6-15 cm with 10-25 pairs of pinnulae each with 15-50 pairs of leaflets, leaflets 0.2-0.7 cm x 0.05-0.15 cm; globular cream or light-yellow flowers; pods 10-20 cm x 2-2.5 cm, up to 1.5 cm thick, with 12-15 seeds

Acacia tortilis subsp. raddiana 50364 (syn A. raddiana [thus Berhaut])

records: the dominant tree of the thorn scrub from Timbuktu and Gao down to Mopti, but absent or rare on the Dogon plateaus and generally uncommon in southeastern Dogon sandy plains (JH)

var. raddiana

records: Timbuktu, Gao (Boudet)

var. pubescens

records: Timbuktu (Boudet)

notes: small tree up to 8-10 m, with ragged-looking branches; bipinnate leaf, rachis 4-6 cm with 3-5 pairs of pinnules 2-3 cm long, the two pinnules at the tip close to each other, each pinnule with c. 12 pairs of leaflets, each leaflet 0.3-0.4 cm long; 2 thorns at base of petiole, variably 2-5 cm (on the same branch); thorns of unequal length; globular white flowers, on peduncles 1.5-3 cm with a tiny bract near or just below the middle; pods twisted in spiral or circle, 10-12 seeds
Dichrostachys

Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. africana 50350 (syn Dichrostachys glomerata)

records: Niono, Sanga, Gao, Yanfolila, Oualia (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Dianwely, Bounou, Songho (JH)

habitat: various (Boudet); hillsides (JH)

notes: thorny shrub 2-3 m; 1-2 straight thorns at base of petiole; acacia-like leaves 4-8 cm with 5-8 pairs of pinnules 3-4 cm, each pinnule with 15-20 pairs of tiny linear leaflets; flowers (May-June, often when tree defoliated), two-tone spikes (mauve and yellow); clustered pods twisted together
Entada

Entada africana 50351

records: Sanga, Bamako, Gourma (Boudet); Hombori, Kikara, generally unknown to Dogon (JH)

habitat: gravel, laterite

notes: tree 3-7 m; no thorns; leaf 25-30 cm with 4-7 pairs of pinnules, each pinnule with 15-25 pairs of rather large leaflets 1.5-2 cm x 0.15-0.2 cm with rounded tips (cf. Sesbania); small yellow-green flowers in spikes 7 cm long, in fascicles of 3-5 at base of fallen leaf; enormous flat pod (segments break off individually) 15-35 cm x 5-6 cm with 12-15 grains
Faidherbia

Faidherbia albida 50352 (syn Acacia albida [thus Berhaut]) (local Fr balanzan)

records: Timbuktu, Sanga, Sotuba (Boudet); ubiquitous in Dogon and montane Songhay country (JH)

habitat: deep sand, farther north chiefly on riverbanks

notes: tall tree; branches have distinctive zigzag shape with bends at axils; white cylindrical flower spike; robust red-orange pods

ethnobotany: pods are sold in markets as fodder for livestock


Ingeae
Albizia (spelled “Albizzia” in Berhaut, Boudet, etc.; both spellings acceptable)

Albizia chevalieri 50349

records: Koulouba, Djenne, Macina (Boudet); Anda, Beni, Djenne (JH)

habitat: wet clayey sands

notes: small tree 8-12 m, no thorns; bipinnate leaves with rachis 12-20 cm, 10-20 pairs of leaflets with acute tips (versus rounded tips for Sesbania sesban); flower in a spherical capitulum, white stamens; long flat brown pod 10-13 cm x 2-3 cm with 7-10 seeds

taxonomy: in vegetative form (i.e. without flowers/fruits), can be mistaken at a distance even (by natives) for Sesbania sesban, which however has leaflets with rounded tips; also some resemblance from a distance to Acacia amythetophylla


Mimoseae
Mimosa

Mimosa pigra

records: Timbuktu and Gao regions (JH)

habitat: forms impenetrable low thorny thickets on riverbanks, also some stands in seasonally inundated areas near Goundam, not observed in northern Dogon country (JH)

notes: thorny bushy shrub 1-2 m; leaves alternate; leaf 8-12 cm long with 5-12 pairs of pinnules 3-8 cm long with 12-30 pairs of tiny pubescent linear leaflets; pair of thorns at base of petiole, many more thorns; flower white-pink in spherical capitulum; hairy pods 5-7 cm x 1-1.2 cm

Mimosa pudica

records: none (Boudet); none (JH; earlier record from Djenné probably error for Neptunia oleracea (JH)

notes: small shrub to 50-75 cm; stems and petioles hairy; alternate bipinnate leaves, each leaf with long petiole entended by rachis, with two pairs of opposite pinnules closely spaced at the tip (i.e. 4 pinnules in a semi-fascicle); pinnules each with 15-25 pairs of leaflets 1-1.5 cm x 0.2-0.3 cm; pink flowers in spherical capitula; pod consists of 4 suborbicular articles, numerous sessile pods at end of peduncle


Neptunia

Neptunia oleracea 50353

records: Mopti, Gao, Gossi, Macina (Boudet); Ansongo, Douentza, Djenne, Bounou (JH)

habitat: drying ponds and stagnant village pools (JH)

notes: hollow stem floats on surface of water, then (after water recedes) lies on sand; leaflets snap shut when touched (cf. Mimosa pudica); leaf 5-15 cm with 2-4 pairs of pinnules 2-6 cm long, each pinnule with 15-20 pairs of leaflets; yellow flowers in oblong capitulum; short flat pods 2-3 cm x 1 cm, each with 5-7 seeds
Prosopis

Prosopis africana 50355

records: Bamako, Sanga, Bandiagara-Douentza (Boudet); now rare in northern Dogon country (a few at Beni), common in sandy plains on road to Segue (JH)

habitat: gravelly savanna

notes: tree 10-20 m; leaf 10-15 cm with 3-6 pairs of pinnules 5-8 cm, each pinnule with 9-16 pairs of leaflets, leaflets oblong-elliptical, acut tip; flowers in yellowish axillary spike, isolated or by 2, 6-8 cm long; woody pod, dark red-brown, 10-15 cm x 2 cm, thick 1.5 cm

ethnobotany: well-known beyond its native range for its hard wood, commonly used as blacksmiths’ charcoal

Prosopis juliflora 50356 (planted in towns, originally from South America) (one of the “mesquite” spp.)

records: commonly planted in and around gardens and villages (JH)

notes: shrub, low-branching, branches extend erratically far outwards from trunk (JH)

Parkieae
Parkia

Parkia biglobosa 50354 (“locust-bean,” local French “néré”)

records: Yanfolila, San, Bamako (Boudet); Walo, Bendiely, Bandiagara (JH)

habitat: deep sand (more varied habitats in south)

notes: tree 10-15 m, umbrella-shaped; leaf 20-40 cm with 10-15 pairs of pinnules 12-15 cm, each pinnule with 30-60 pairs of leaflets, leaflets with acute tip; small red flowers in spherical capitulum; long pods 25-30 cm x 1.5-2 cm, dark brown when mature, with black seeds covered by floury pulp

ethnobotany: well-known outside its range as a tree, pulp in pods is made into a sweet yellow flour that is sold in markets for flavoring (native word for ‘yellow’ is often literally ‘néré flour’); seed fermented and sold in markets as a hard black spice (local Fr soumbala)




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