Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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Neocarya macrophylla 50162 (syn Parinari macrophylla)

records: Bandiagara, Bamako, Segou (Boudet); Djenne, Diangassagou (JH)

habitat: dry savanna, including sandstone

notes: tree to 10 m, with stout densely tomentose branchlets and gnarled bole; leaves ovate or elliptic, cordate at base, rounded or subacute at apex, 10-25 cm x 5-15 cm, densely white-tomentellous and conspicuously reticulate beneath with 15-20 pairs of prominent lateral nerves; flowers crowded in terminal, subspiciform few-branched panicles, white or pinkish, fertile stamens 15; fruit rough-skinned, ellipsoid, about 5 cm long, finely warted

ethnobotany: fruit edible

Parinari curatellifolia

records: Sotuba, Sikasso, Bougouni (Boudet); earlier record for Djenne now assigned to Neocarya macrophylla (JH)

habitat: wooded savanna

notes: tree to 25 feet with black fissured bark; leaves rounded at apex, rounded or slightly cuneate (wedge-like) at base, oblong-elliptic 5-17 cm x 3-8 cm, with 15-25 pairs of lateral nerves prominent beneath, tomentose (pale green) beneath; infloresence a lax open many-flowered panicle; calyx tube 0.2-0.5 cm long; sepals acute, flower buds enclosed by a pair of bracts as long as themselves; fertile stamens 7-8; petals white; fruit ovoid up to 3.5 cm long



Gloriosa simplex (see G. superba)

Gloriosa superba var. superba 50163 (syn G. simplex)

records: none (Boudet); Kikara, Anda (JH)

habitat: inselbergs (JH)

notes: twining shrub (leaf tips function like tendrils), spectacular crimson flowers



Anogeiussus leiocarpa 50164 (often spelled leiocarpus with masculine gender)

records: Bamako, Bandiagara, Nioro (Boudet); Menaka, Tupere, Anda, Songho (JH)

habitat: non-swampy depressions

notes: tall, slender tree 15-25 m, leaves (sub-)opposite; oval leaf 4-7 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm; 4-8 lateral nerves, many fine secondary nerves; spherical fruit

ethnobotany: leaves used to produce yellow dye for bogolan (traditional Dogon garments)


scrambling shrub C. lecardii, C. paniculatum (seasonal swamps)

bushy shrub C. aculeatum, C. micranthum, C. nioroense

bushy shrub/tree C. molle, C. nigricans

tree C. glutinosum, C. adenogonium


grey C. nioroense (vs. brown for C. micranthum)

thorns (< petioles): C. aculeatum, C. lecardii, C. paniculatum


glabrous C. adenogonium, C. nioroense, sometimes C. nigricans

small, rounded C. nioroense (may be nearly circular)

alternate C. aculeatum (often)

turns brown C. micranthum (not C. nioroense)

petiole length

< 1 cm C. aculeatum, C. micranthum, C. molle, C. nigricans, C. nioroense

0.8-2 cm C. paniculatum (grooved)

1.2-1.8 cm C. adenogonium

1-3 cm C. collinum, C. lecardii

5-10 mm[?] C. glutinosum (tomentose; Arbonnier "5-10 cm de long")


5-winged C. aculeatum

4-winged (color follows)

ochre C. lecardii, C. nigricans (immature), C. nioroense (shiny)

red (immature) C. adegonium, C. glutinosum, C. micranthum

brown C. micranthum, C. adenogonium, C. nigricans, C. paniculatum, C. collinum

yellow C. paniculatum

green-yellow C. molle

greyish C. collinum (also purple or brown)

violet C. collinum, C. lecardii (immature)


red C. lecardii (base of calyx bulging), C. paniculatum (panicle with corymbs of large flowers, base of calyx tubular)

white C. aculeatum (pink calices), C. micranthum

greenish C. adenogonium, C. collinum, C. glutinosum, C. nigricans, C. nioroense, C. molle
Combretum aculeatum 50165

records: Timbuktu, Sanga, Adrar, Segou (Boudet); Hombori, Kubewel, Boui (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: bushy shrub, leaves often opposite (s.t. verticillate by 3) or s.t. subopposite or alternate; oval leaf 1-5 cm x 0.8-3 cm; thorn-like old petioles may remain after leaf falls; white flowers with red calices in small terminal panicles; fruit with 5 wings

Combretum adenogonium 50167 (syns C. ghasalense, C. fragrans) [resembles C. glutinosum]

records: Niono, Sikasso, Bandiagara-Mopti (Boudet); one in a field near Songho, a few on plateau near Dogani (JH)

habitat: savanna

notes (FWTA2 C. ghasalense, Arbonnier C. fragrans): tree to 10-12 m [only tall Combretum in the zone other than C. glutinosum]; branches sticky (brown, orange, or rusty); leaf glabrous above and below when young except for small tufts of hairs on scondary nerves especially below; top and bottom of leaf of similar color when fresh; petals cream or yellow; wings of young fruits red becoming brown or yellowish, some scales toward center

Combretum collinum

record: near Dogani on plateau (JH)

--, subsp. geitonophyllum (Berhaut as C. geitonophyllum)

records: Nioro, Kita, Sotuba (Boudet)

habitat: Soudanian

notes: shrub or tree 4-6 m, leaves often subverticillate by 4 (or 3), or alternate on some branches; elliptical leaf 6-12 cm x 3-6 cm; 8-12 arc-ed lateral nerves not reaching edge; green-yellow flowers in axillary spiciform racemes 2-6 cm; 4-winged fruits 2.5 cm wide, with down

--, subsp. hypopilinum 50166 (Berhaut as C. hypopilinum)

records: Bandiagara to Mopti (Boudet, single record)

notes: shrub or tree 3-6 m, often ramified at base, leaves often verticillate by 4 but s.t. opposite or alternate at end of branch; leaf elliptical or oblong-elliptical 6-15 cm x 3-6 cm, petiole 12-20 mm; axillary flower spikes 4-6 cm long, petals yellow; fruits 4-winged 2.5 cm x 2 cm [CIRAD specimens have much longer leaves than those of subsp. geitonophyllum]

Combretum fragrans (see C. adenogonium)

Combretum geitonophyllum (see C. collinum subsp. geitonophyllum)

Combretum ghasalense (see C. adenogonium)

Combretum glutinosum 50168

records: Gossi, Mopti-Djenne, Douentza, Labbezanga, Sanga, Bamako (Boudet); common in the plains from Hombori throughout Dogon country, and the dominant tree in much of the savanna in the flat, dry parts of the Dogon plateaus (JH)

habitat: savanna

notes: tree 4-12 m [only other tall Combretum in the zone is C. adenogonium], leaves mostly verticillate by 4, s.t. opposite or alternate; variable leaf shape, roughly elliptical or oblong 6-10 cm x 3-4 cm, 7-10 lateral nerves; bottom of leaf pubescent (visible under magnification); bottom of leaf with prominent venation, and lighter-colored than top when fresh; leaf not particularly viscous (sticky) in this region in spite of name; petiole 0.5-1 cm; inflorescence in axillary spikes with substantial peduncles, or with leaves, 4-6 cm long, small green-yellow flowers; fruits pale brown, 2.5-3 cm x 2.5-4 cm, 4-winged

Combretum lecardii 50169

records: Bandiagara, Sanga, Bamako-Sikasso (Boudet); this is the common red Combretum seen conspicuously flowering around January on the road Bamako-Segou

habitat: various (not just in inundatable areas)

notes: bushy shrub or scrambler 1-2 m, paired opposite leaves; leaf widely elliptical or obovate 6-15 cm x 5-8 cm; petiole 1-3 cm; red flowers in dense panicles at tip of twigs when tree is defoliated or with young leaves (cf, C. paniculatum); calyx bulges at base then narrows; fruits 4-winged, about as wide as long

Combretum micranthum 50170

records: San, Bandiagara, Sanga, Koulikoro (Boudet); widespread throughout Dogon and montane Songhay country

habitat: rocky hillsides, depressions, rocky savanna

notes: bushy shrub 2-5 m, paired opposite leaves, leaves bright green then red when drying; white flowers in fasciculate spikes when plant is defoliated; reddish-brown fruit 4-winged, about as wide as long, 1.5 cm

Combretum molle (bushwillow)

records: Nioro, Yanfolila, Bounouko (Boudet)

habitat: savanna

notes: bushy shrub or tree 4-10 m; dark-grey deeply fissured bark; paired opposite leaves 8-15 cm x 5-6 cm, short petiole 2-4 mm; young leaves pubescent esp. underneath; dense axillary flower spikes 2-4 cm on peduncles 1-2 cm; 4-winged fruits a little longer than wide

Arbonnier adds (p.c.): other Malian Combretums have coarse or scaly bark, grey to ochre or orangish, brown underneath, while C. molle alone has bark that is fissured longitudinally, grey to black.

Combretum nigricans 50700

records: Koulikoro, Koloni (Boudet); rare at Diangassagou (JH)

habitat: arid zones

notes: shrub or tree 4-8 m, paired opposite leaves; dark brown branches (i.e. partially covered by blackish bark); leaf obovate-elliptical to elliptical or oval-elliptical 6-9 cm x 3-5 cm, 7-9 lateral nerves; nerves of old leaves reddish below in some locations; leaves and fruits darken when dried (reddish-brown); tuft of hairs at intersection of nerves; green-white flowers in axillary spiciform racemes, pedicels 3-4 mm; 4-winged fruits 2 cm x 1.5 cm, base red at maturity; seeds darker than wings

varieties: C. nigricans var. elliotii (Engl. & Diels) Aubrév if young branches pubescent, C. nigricans var. nigricans Lept. ex Guill. & Perr. if glabrous.

Combretum nioroense 50686

records: Nioro, Koulikoro, Kita, Bamako, Niono, Segou (Boudet); off highway between Mopti and San, Pinia (JH)

notes: bushy shrub 2-4 m, branches ash-grey, paired opposite leaves; leaves like C. micranthum (but more rounded, and remain green when drying); green-yellow flowers in fasciculate spikes; pale brown 4-winged fruits 1.2-1.5 cm long, longer than wide, light-colored

Combretum paniculatum 50171

records: Bandiagara, Sikasso (Boudet, Suppl., p. 434); southern Dogon country (Diangassagou), San (JH)

habitat: beside ponds

notes: scrambling woody shrub with long decumbent branches, leaves opposite by 2, or verticillate by 3; leaf elliptical or oval-elliptical, about twice as long as wide, often with acuminate tip; petiole 1-2 cm, becoming thorny; vermilion-red flowers (cf. C. lecardii) in large panicles of racemes, often when plant is defoliated; 4-winged fruits, often red-green before maturity; Arbonnier distinguishes the two red-flower Combreturms by the calyx (swollen and pubescent in C. lecardii, not so in C. paniculatum).


Guiera senegalensis 50172

records: Douentza, Sanga, Bamako, Nioro, Menaka, Bougouni (Boudet); widespread in Songhay and Dogon country (JH)

habitat: unused fields (exhausted soils), lightly inundated depressions (Boudet); dominant in shrubby savanna in the sandy plains (JH)

notes: bushy shrub, leaves opposite or subopposite, grey-green, 3-5 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm; yellowish flowers in spherical capitula; fruits covered with long silky hairs (like spider’s web)

Pteleopsis habeensis 50173 (endangered sp.)

records: Bandiagara (escarpment), Koutiala (Boudet); pockets in Nigeria, Ghana

habitat: with C. micranthum and C. glutinosum, skeletel soil, ravines, cliffs

notes: small straggling shrub or tree 5-10 m, leaves usually opposite

reference: Kew Bull, 1953, p. 290; W Hawthorn. 1990. Field Guide to the Forest Trees of Ghana, Natural Resources Institute, Chatham and the Overseas Development Administration, London. 278 pp.; W D Hawthorne. 1995. Ecological Profiles of Ghanaian Forest Trees. Oxford Forestry Institute.

Terminalia (most have flat, winged fruits; very large leaves)

Terminalia albida

records: Bougouni-Sikasso (Boudet)

habitat: invades fallow fields

hybridization: may hybridize wtih T. avicennioides

notes: tree 6-12 m, leaves alternate; leaf 3 times longer than wide, 7-13 cm x 3-5 cm, young leaves silvery-whitish with silky pubescence, later tending toward glabrous; tomentose winged fruit 5-8 cm x 2-3 cm

Terminalia avicennioides 50174

records: Hombori-Sombougou, Segou, Sanga, Bamako-Sotuba (Boudet); Kubewel, Diangassagou, appears absent farther north in Douentza-Hombori zone, and generally rarer in the zone than T. macroptera (JH)

habitat: fallow fields, sandy soil

notes: shrub or tree 3-10 m, leaves alternate; leaf elliptical or oblong-elliptical 10-15 cm x 5-6 cm, widest in middle, whitish tomentose surface, turning brown when drying; petiole (1-2 cm long) and young twigs tomentose and whitish; white flowers in isolated axillary spiciform racemes, spikes 10-12 cm; velvety-tomentose winged fruit 5-6 cm x 2-2.5 cm

Terminalia laxiflora 50695

records: Macina, Yanfolila, Sanga (Boudet)

habitat: wooded savanna

notes: tree 8-12 m, leaves alternate, condensed at tip of twig; coriaceous leaf, top usually glabrous, underside glabrous or pubescent, oblong 15-20 cm x 6-9 cm; long petiole (3-5 cm);; flowers in isolated axillary spiciform racemes; glabrous winged fruits oblong or elliptical 6-9 cm x 2.5-3.5 cm

Terminalia macroptera 50175

records: Bandiagara, Macina, Mopti-Djenne, Bamako (Boudet); Beni (in ravine), Yanda (at barrage), Kubewel, Bounou, Diangassagou, Songho, but now generally absent (or not well-known) from Douentza north to Hombori (JH)

habitat: edges of inundated plains, riverbanks, deep soil

notes: tree 10-12 m, leaves alternate, slender at base, widest 2/3 way up, 15-35 cm x 5-12 cm condensed at tip of twig, lateral nerves prominent on both sides; petiole absent, weakly distinct, or short (5-15 mm long); flowers in isolated axillary spikes 8-15 cm, calice white, 10 stamens per flower; glabrous winged fruit 8-10 cm x 3-4 cm, with tip often emarginate

Terminalia mantaly 50176 (planted)

records: Douentza (planted) (JH)

notes: tree 5-10 m, branching horizontally, leaves heavily condensed at tip and at knots (appear verticillate), obovate leaf 3-5 cm x 1-2.5 cm, widest near top, edge crenelated near top, 3-5 cm x 1-2.5 cm; petiole absent or very short; flower spikes 3-6 cm; fruits are capsules 1.5-2 cm long

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