Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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(includes former Capparaceae and Cruciferae)

(Cleome now considered closer to ex-Cruciferae than to other Capparaceae)

(term “Cruciferae” was used because 4 petals look like a cross)

section organized into these subsections:


Cleome and relatives

ex-Cruciferae (largely Saharan, plus cultivated spp. [cabbage, broccoli, etc.])

Anastatica hierochuntica

records: Kessert Gani (Sahara) (Boudet)

habitat: gravelly regs, depressions


Eremobium aegyptiacum

records: none (Boudet)

Farsetia aegyptia

records: Hamada Safia, Taoudenni (Boudet)

habitat: rocks

Farsetia ramosissima (see F. stylosa)

Farsetia stenoptera 50148

records: Gossi (Boudet); Walo (JH)

notes: herb, long thin pod (cf. Tephrosia)

habitat: clayey depressions

Farsetia stylosa 50149 (syn F. ramosissima)

records: Goundam, Timbuktu, Adrar, Menaka (Boudet); Nando (JH)

habitat: sandy


Morettia canescens

records: Tilemsi (Boudet)

habitat: sandy

taxonomy: term was at times misapplied to M. philaeana

Morettia philaeana (cf. also M. canescens)

records: Tin Ahara

habitat: sandy


Moricandia arvensis

records: none (Boudet)

Schouwia purpurea (see also S. thebaica)

taxonomy: valid term, but has also been misapplied to S. thebaica

Schouwia schimperi (see S. thebaica)

Schouwia thebaica (syn S. schimperi, cf. also S. purpurea)

records: Adrar, in Tillit (Boudet)

habitat: oueds, sandy elevations


Zilla spinosa

records: none (Boudet)
Cleome etc.

key by leaf

5-foliate: gynandra (fl white), viscosa (fl yellow)

3-foliate: tenella (fl yellow)

simple: monophylla (fl white), scaposa (fl yellow)
Cleome amblyocarpa (syn C. africana, s.t. previously referred to C. arabica) [get description]

records: Agueraktem (Boudet), also Algeria

habitat: rocks, sands

notes (from photo of CIRAD specimen from Arabia): much branched, has compact pod

ethnobotany: toxic to animals

reference: Boulos, Flora of Egypt, vol. 1, p. 180

Cleome arabica (valid term, but misapplied locally to C. amblyocarpa)

Cleome brachycarpa (not in Berhaut) [get description]

records: Goundam, Adrar

habitat: rocks, rocky soil, dunes

reference: Boulos, Flora of Egypt, vol 1, p. 178

Cleome gynandra 50142 (syn Gynandropsis gynandra)

records: Adrar, Gao (Boudet); common in northern Dogon country (JH)

habitat: common beside fields and in villages (JH)

notes: annual herb; alternate leaves w. 5 leaflets; petiole 3-10 cm with tiny thorny points; stem and petiole watery; white flowers

Cleome monophylla 50143

records: Sanga, Farabougou (Boudet); Kikara, Sevare (JH)

habitat: wet sandy (Sahel), stony depressions

notes: annual herb 25-50 cm; simple alternate leaves, oval-lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate 3-6 cm x 0.8-1.5 cm; leaves get smaller going up stem; white flowers grouped at tip of stem; long thin fruit 3-6 cm x 2-3 mm

Cleome paradoxa (not in Berhaut) [get description]

records: Goundam

notes (from photo of CIRAD specimen): leaves linear, on fairly long pedicels, flowers in clump at apex

habitat: sandy oueds, rocky soil

reference: Ozenda, Flore du Sahara (end ed), p. 247; Boulos, Flora of Egypt, vol 1, p. 180

Cleome scaposa

records: Kidal, Ndaki (Boudet)

habitat: compact sands, fossil laterites, rocks

notes: annual herb 15-25 cm; simple alternate leaves; oval leaves much larger at base of stem (2-4 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm), base often cordate; leaves much smaller higher up on stem; small yellow flowers in small clusters at top of stem; long thin fruit 1.5-2.5 cm long, often arc-ed

Cleome tenella

records: Bourem, Tassaguela

habitat: compact sands w Acacia senegal/A. laeta & Schoenefeldia

notes: annual herb 10-30 cm; alternate trifoliate leaves, linear leaflets 1-5 cm x 1.5 mm; small yellow flowers

Cleome viscosa 50145

records: Gao, Sanga, Adrar (Boudet); widespread in Dogon country in inselbergs and rocky plateau (JH)

habitat: common in rocky debris at base of inselbergs

notes: annual herb 10-60 cm; alternate leaves w. 5 leaflets; lateral nerves hard to see; petiole 1-3 cm; pubescent streaked stem; yellow flowers; long thin fruit 5-7 cm x 3-4 mm


Gynandropsis gynandra (see Cleome gynandra)
ex-Capparaceae excluding Cleome

Boscia angustifolia 50133

records: Bamaka, Sanga, Hombori, Tikimsa (Boudet); known throughout Songhay and Dogon country (JH)

habitat: dry land

notes: tree or shrub, high-branching; in this zone the trunk is usually covered with shiny white bark; leaves alternate on young branches, fasciculate by 3-10 on older branches, oblong-elliptical 4-7 cm x 1-1.5 cm; petiole 4-6 mm; greenish flowers in a terminal cluster; fruits are spherical 7-8 mm wide

comment: has some resemblance to Maerua crassifolia (called by the same name in riverine Songhay)

Boscia salicifolia 50134

records: Samanko (Boudet); Hombori, Kikara (JH)

habitat: rocky hills

notes: small tree or shrub (aspect resembles B. angustifolia); leaves alternate, lanceolate 8-12 cm x 0.8-1.5 cm, with conspicuous central nerve; petiole 1-4 mm; greenish flowers in racemes; spherical fruits 7-10 mm wide

Boscia senegalensis 50135

records: ubiquitous in Songhay and Dogon country (JH)

habitat: on dry land, often on termitaries

notes: bushy shrub; alternate leaves, oval, 7-10 cm x 3-6 cm; greenish flowers in terminal panicle; spherical fruits 1.5-2 cm wide, yellow at maturity

Cadaba (lianas/scramblers with no thorns)

Cadaba farinosa subsp. farinosa 50137

records: San, Timbuktu, Gao, Niono, Djenne (Boudet): Hombori, Walo, Kikara (JH)

habitat: on termitaries, sandy-clayey depressions, ravines

notes: small bushy scrambling shrub, s.t. tree to 4 m; leaves alternate on young branch, fasciculate by 2-5 on trunk and branch, oblong; leaves covered by fine whitish powder that gives foliage a greyish look; yellow-green flowers in panicle at tip of branch; slender pod up to 5-6 cm long with bright red seeds

ethnobotany: leaves sold as medicine (e.g. Gao) (JH)

Cadaba glandulosa 50138

records: Goundam, Ansongo, Menaka, Hombori (Boudet); Kikara, Dianwely

habitat: dry areas

notes: under-shrub; leaves small and circular, covered with whitish powder.

ethnobotany: leaves sold as medicine (e.g. Hombori) (JH)
Capparis (lianas/scramblers with paired down-curving thorns)

Capparis corymbosa (see C. sepiaria)

Capparis decidua (in Berhaut)

records: Senegal (Sahel) and Mauritania (Berhaut); none (Boudet)

habitat: beside oueds (Mauritania)

notes: thorny shrub forming clumps, generally leafless (esp. at time of flowering); flowers pink or red; spherical fruit first red, then black when mature

Capparis fascicularis 50139 (syn C. rothii [thus in FWTA2])

records: Ansongo, Dire, Oua-Oua near Mopti (Boudet)

habitat: on termitaries

notes: (FWTA2 1(1).89-90): resembles C. sepiaria (“C. corymbosa) but calyx silky pubescent to densely tomentose, flowers 4-12 in short axillary cymes; petals and filaments white

Capparis rothii (see C. fascicularis)

Capparis sepiaria var. fischeri 50140 (syn C. corymbosa, so in Berhaut)

records: Timbuktu, Niono, Hombori (Boudet); Kikara, Boni, Djenne (JH)

habitat: termitaries, thickets on riverbanks, s.t. around villages

notes: bushy shrub with decumbent branches, or liana; alternate leaves, oval 3-5 cm x 1-3 cm, widest about 1/3 up from base, tip rounded; white flowers clustered in corymb at tip of branches, calyx glabrous; spherical fruit 1-1.2 cm wide, red at maturity

Capparis spinosa

records: none (Boudet)

Capparis tomentosa

records: along Niger R., Fantina, Sahelo-Soudanian (Boudet); Walo (JH(

habitat: termitaries

notes: bush; leaves oblong, 3-8 cm x 1.5-3 cm with base rounded or barely subcordate, top rounded; greyish pubescence covering most of plant including branches; paired down-curving thorns at base of petiole; flowers in dense bouquet at tip of branch; void or spherical fruit, yellow-orange with pink flesh, 4-5 cm wide and up to 5-6 cm long, on peduncle

Crataeva adansonii 50146 (syn Crataeva religiosa)

records: Timbuktu, San, Gao, Segou, Bandiagara (Boudet); Beni, Bounou, Hombori, Boui (JH)

habitat: riverbanks, ravines

notes: tree; trifoliate leaf (cf. Ritchiea), leaflets obovate 6-10 cm x 3-4 cm, with acuminate point at tip; long petiole 4-10 cm; young branches lenticelate with white points; flowers (appear after leaves have fallen), white, in corymbiform panicle at end of branches; spherical fruit 3-8 cm wide, woody peduncle 5-6 cm

names: may have a special name for the fruit (50147)


Maerua angolensis 50150

records: Bandiagara, Dire, San, Sotuba (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Boni, Dianwely, Diangassagou, Boni (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: shrub or small tree; alternate glabrous leaves, oval, 4-7 cm x 3-6 cm, widest near base, rounded mucronate tip, bright green; petiole 1-2 cm thickest at top; axillary flowers close to tip of branch; 5 green sepals but no petals, many white stamens in parasol; lumpy pod narrowed between seeds (from 3 to many more seeds)

Maerua crassifolia 50151

records: Timbuktu, Adrar, Gao (Boudet); Hombori, Douentza, Kubewel, road Douentza to Bamba (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: shrub or small tree; alternate leaves usually fasciculate by 2-5 on one branches; leaf obovate, 1-2 cm x 0.5-1 cm, tinted ashy grey; small flowers, along branches, isolated or in groups of 2-3, without petals; pod narrowed between seeds, 2-5 cm long

ethnobotany: much prized for medicinal value

Maerua de-waillyi (Malian endemic) [get description]

records: islands in rapids near Ansongo (Boudet)

notes: resembles M. crassifolia

Maerua oblongifolia

records: Timbuktu, Segou, Gourma (Boudet)

habitat: sandy with some clay, riverbanks

notes: woody shrub to 0.5-1 m high, emerging from woody rhizome; alternate leaves, oblong or oblong-lanceolate 7-12 cm x 1-1.5 cm; short petiole 1-5 cm, branches green; flowers axillary, close to tip of branch, 4 sepals, with 4 whitish-green petals

Maerua pseudopetalosa (syns Courbonia pseudopetalosa, Courbonia virgata) [get description]

records: Konkobiri (Gourma), Goumera (Boudet)

habitat: termitaries, clayey

notes: (African Flow Pl Database 2007) perennial woody herb or subshrub with ascending branches, 30-60 cm high; (from image of CIRAD specimen): small lanceolate leaves, sessile on branches (cf. M. crassofolia)

Ritchiea capparoides (in Berhaut)

records: none (Boudet)

notes: small tree, or scrambling shrub; alternate trifoliate leaves (cf. Crataeva), leaflets elliptical 7-15 cm x 4-7 cm; oblong pods 3-5 cm x 1.5-1.8 cm

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