Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

Ruscaceae [for Sansevieria see Dracaenaceae] Rutaceae

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[for Sansevieria see Dracaenaceae]



[global name for citrus, esp. lemon and orange, is lemuru]

Citrus grandis 50599 (grapefruit)

records: uncommon in Dogon country, but some at Anda (JH)

Citrus limon 50600 (lemon)

records: common in towns and cities, often in courtyards (JH)

Citrus reticulata (tangarine, mandarine)

Citrus sinensis 50601 (orange)

records: common in towns and cities, often in courtyards (JH)

native name: often lemuru ba:, from Bambara

Vepris heterophylla 50603 (one of the “kinkéliba” trees)

records: souther Mali (Boudet); Kikara, increasingly rare in northern Dogon country due to excessive harvesting of foliage (JH)

habitat: inselbergs

ethnobotany: leaves sold in markets especially during Ramadan; a “tea” made from it is drunk to break the daily fast in Ramadan; also medicinal; Combretum micranthum is used similarly at Hombori
Teclea (teak; not in Mali)



Salvadora persica 50604

records: from Timbuktu-Gao, becoming less common in northern Dogon country, seen at Bounou (JH)

notes: scrambling shrub; thick rubbery leaf

ethnobotany: chewsticks, especially for Songhay



Allophylus africanus subsp. africanus

records: Sikasso, lac Debo, Macina (Boudet)

habitat: riverbanks

notes: shrub to small tree; trifoliate leaf; flowers creamy-white, good-smelling; ripe fruits red


Aphania senegalensis (see Lepisanthes senegalensis)

Cardiospermum halicacabum

records: Kabara, Niono (Boudet)

notes: climbing herb with tendrils, leaves biternate (with three pinnae each subdivided into three pinnules, cf. Bidens biternata), deeply lobed leaflets; fruits bladder-like (air-filled, cf. Physalis)


Lepisanthes senegalensis 50605 (syn Aphania senegalensis [thus Boudet etc.])

records: Nokara, Dogo, Mopto to Djenne (Boudet); Kikara (JH)

habitat: slopes of inselbergs, ravines

notes: tree to 55 feet high, short bole, dense drooping branches; branchlets and petioles yellowish-pubescent; leaves paripinnate with 1-2 pairs; flowers greenish-white, fragrant; ripe fruits red

ethnobotany: fruits edible, but seeds are extremely toxic to livestock


corolla-lobes with petaloid external appendages (appearing to be 3 series of petals): Manilkara

no such appendages

leaves & flowers densely clustered at top of shoots: Vitellaria (karité)

usually not clustered

stamens inserted on the corolla between and at the base of lobes: Malacantha

stamens inserted in the corolla tube and alternate with the lobes: Pachystela


Malacantha alnifolia var. alnifolia (see Pouteria alnifolia var. alnifolia)

Manilkara multinervis (see M. obovata)

Manilkara obovata 50607 (syn M. multinervis)

records: Bamako, Bandiagara Boudet); a single tree seen in Iril area of summit east of Kikara, not known to or named by local Songhay and not observed elsewhere in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: edge of forest galleries, rocky escarpments

notes: large tree to 40 feet, often low-branched; leaf oblong or narrowly oblong-obovate 7-14 cm x 4-6 cm, without stipules, usually crowded toward the end of branchlets, petiole up to 3 cm; clustered white or brown flowers among leaves, corolla-lobes with petaloid external appendages (appearing to be 3 series of petals)

Pachystela pobeguiniana (see Synsepalum pobeguineanum)

Pouteria alnifolia var. alnifolia 50608 (syn Malacantha alnifolia [thus Boudet, FWTA2])

records: mountains near Douentza (JH)

notes: shrub or small tree, scaly bark; leaves up to 23 cm x 6-12 cm, with pellucid dots, tomentose becoming glabrescent, 15-20 pairs of very prominent lateral nerves, drying leaves turn dark brown or greenish brown; flower clusters dense in axils of fallen leaves, flowers sessile, corolla-lobes without external appendages; ellipsoid fruit up to 2.5 cm long


Synsepalum pobeguinianum 50609 (syn Pachystela pobeguiniana)

records: Kikara (Boudet); not confirmed for Kikara or northern Dogon zone (JH)

notes: tree to 45 feet; leaves with whitish tomentum when young, obovate up to 22 cm x 7 cm, slightly cordate at base, shortly acuminate at apex, about 16 pairs of conspicuous lateral nerves very prominent and distinct below, short petiole 0.3-0.4 cm, small whitish flowers in dense clusters along older branches in the axils of fallen leaves, corolla-lobes without external appendages


Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. paradoxa 50610 (karité) (syn Butyrospermum paradoxum)

records: now rare in northern Dogon country, much more common farther south (JH)

notes: tree; leaves clustered at the end of shoots; fruit with large pit (seed) surrounded by yellowish pulp and a green skin

ethnobotany: oil from seeds is the source of shea-butter (beurre de karité); fruits edible (soft pulp around pit)

shea-butter website


[mostly herbs; fruit a capsule or berry]

Anticharis linearis (see A. senegalensis)

Anticharis senegalensis 50611 (syn A. linearis [thus FWTA2])

records: Ansongo, Tin Ahara, Adrar, Gao, Hombori (Boudet)

habitat: sandy to sandy-clayey soil, more or less inundatable

notes: herb, leaves alternate, narrowly linear 2-5.5 cm x 0.3 cm with glandular hairs; solitary axillary flowers, very slender pedicels 1-2 cm long with a pair of braceoles above the middle; 2 stamens; fruits ovoid 0.8 cm, beaked

Dopatrium macranthum

records: Beni (JH)

habitat: shallow water in seasonal rock pool

notes: rooted underwater, erect stem emerging from water

Glossostigma diandrum (also spelled diandra) (“mud mat”)

records: Timbuktu, Gao

habitat: mud, wet sand

notes: creeping herb 1 cm high, prostrate filiform stems rooting at nodes, forms a mat on mud; leaf sphatulate 1 cm x 1-1.5 mm; solitary axillary flowers, calyx 3-lobed, corolla 5-lobed, 2 stamens, fruits 2-celled with many seeds

[small aquatic herbs often submerged, leaves opposite, much divided]

Limnophila fluviatilis

records: Gao, Bourem, Macina, lac Debo (Boudet)

habitat: amphibious

reference: Adansonia ser 2 15(2):236 and plate 3 (1975)

Limnophila indica

records: Gao (Boudet)

habitat: amphibious

notes: flower yellow and blue


Rhamphicarpa fistulosa

records: Kabara, Gao, lac Faguibine, Bamako

habitat: rice fields

notes: small erect herb up to 2 feet, much-branched, glabrous, half-woody below with fibrous roots; leaf pinnatisect into slender filiform segments; white (less often yellow) flowers, 5 petals; fruit obliquely ovoid with erect beak to one side; plant turns black when dried

Scoparia dulcis 50612 (resembles Oldenlandia corymbosa)

records: Timbuktu, Macina, Niono, Bamako, San, Sanga (Boudet)

habitat: sandy-clayey soil of temporary ponds

notes: bushy herb; glabrous ribbed stems; leaves opposite or whorled, glabrous, 2-5-5 cm x up to 1.5 cm, narrowly oblanceolate, narrowed and entire in the lower half, crenulate in the upper half; flowers by 1-2 in the upper reduced leaf-axils forming slender racemes, capsule globose 0.4 cm diameter

ethnobotany: important medicinal herb

Striga (several other spp. in southern Mali)

Striga hermonthica 50613 (spelled “hermontheca” in FWTA2)

records: Sanga, Nioro du Sahel, Bamako, Segou (Boudet); common in Hombori and Dogon country (JH)

notes: erect herb parasitic on millet (and sorghum) roots; leaves linear or slightly elliptic-linear, 3-9 cm x 0.3-0.7 cm; bracts lanceolate to lanceolate-elliptic; corolla often large, attractive bright pink flowers; specimens turn blackish when dry

Striga linearifolia [get photo]

records: Macina, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: wet areas

notes: erect herb; hairs closely appressed to stem, directed upwards (not outwards); short leaf subulate (awl-shaped) 0.5 cm long, stems ribbed and square; bracts similar to leaves; flowers white, pale pink, or pale lilac in dense spikes, corolla tomentose-pubescent

reference: Kew Bull. 14:416 (1960)

Striga passargei

records: San, Bamako; also Senegal to Tanzania (Boudet)

habitat: edge of inundatable area (Boudet); rocky places (FWTA2)

notes: erect herb 4-18 inches, slightly scabrid; flower creamy white to pale yellow with pink center; leafy bracts up to 3 cm, much longer than calyx

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