Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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[monocots, herbs]

spathe with 2 lips pressed against each other: Commelina

not so

long spathe-like bract not with lips pressed against each other, petals fused at base: Cyanotis

not so

petals unequal (2 long, 1 short): Aneilema

petals equal, fruits capsules

inflorescence glabrous in form of dropping panicle, leaves 20 cm +: Murdannia

unilateral racemes, leaves rarely longer than 15 cm: Floscopa
Aneilema (genus differs from Commelina by lacking spathe tightly enclosing inflorescence)

Aneilema lanceolatum subsp. lanceolatum [not in Berhaut] [get description]

records: Bamako, Gourma (Boudet)

habitat: savanna on deep soil


[inflorescence with few flowers enclosed in green spathe with 2 lips, flowers emerge from spathe when opening, petals free of each other, 2 large petals and 1 small petal, usually 3 fertile stamens]

key to spathes:

lower edges of spathe fused together: erecta, forsskaolii, benghalensis, nigritana

lower edges of spathe not fused together: diffusa, subulata
Commelina bracteosa (see C. erecta subsp. erecta)

Commelina benghalensis var. benghalensis 50177

records: Bamako, Gao, Sanga (Boudet); common weed in fields and villages in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: fields, savanna

notes: decumbent, to 70 cm, leaves wide (oval to lanceolate) 3-8 cm x 1.5-3 cm, petals light blue to nearly white, 3 petals, one highly reduced, spathe fused in rear, regularly has underground stems with leaves; flowers Aug-Nov

Commelina diffusa subsp. diffusa 50178

records: Bamako, Gao (rapids), Sanga (Boudet); none (JH)

habitat: moist areas

notes: stems prostrate or scrambling then ascendant; leaf lanceolate to elliptic 2-8 cm x 0.8-2 cm; spathe not fused, or fused only shortly next to peduncle; petals bright blue, rarely whitish; flowers Nov-Jan

Commelina erecta 50678 (two subspp.)

records: Hombori (looks like subsp. livingtonii), Beni (looks like subsp. erecta) (JH)

-- subsp. erecta 50679 (Boudet as C. bracteosa)

records: Macina (ravine), Diarra (Boudet)

habitat: wooded savanna, galeries

notes: perennial, stem erect; leaf elliptic to oval-lanceolate, acuminate tip 5-13 cm x 2.5-3 cm; spathe fused; petals bright blue, rarely white; flowers July-Sept

--subsp. livingstonii 50180 (syn C. subalbescens)

records: Segou, Macina, Sanga, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: fields, beside roads

notes: CIRAD specimen (Niger) has narrow leaves (almost linear)

Commelina forskaolii 50181 (also spelled forsskaolii, forskalaei)

records: Timbuktu, Gao, Niono, Segou, Bamako (Boudet); common weed in millet fields throughout Songhay and Dogon country (JH)

habitat: fields, dunes, roads

notes: generally prostrate, leaves elliptic to lanceolate, undulating, dark green, petals sky blue, spathe 8 to 13 mm, in each spathe, one flower has long peduncle, others barely emerge, spathe fused in rear, 3 petals, one of which is highly reduced, sometimes has underground stems with leaves

Commelina nigritana (“Gambian dayflower”) var. gambiae

records: Bamako, San (Boudet); now introduced as a weed in Florida

habitat: savanna, rice-fields

notes: erect or crawling then ascendant, 10 to 60 cm high, leaves narrow (linear to lanceolate), 5-9 cm x 0.5-1 cm wide, petals apricot yellow often with red spot at base; 3 petals, one of which is highly reduced, no “beak” of spathe, spathe 15-20 mm, fused in back, fairly long peduncle (5 to 15 mm) connecting spathe to stem, no underground stems

Commelina subalbescens (see C. erecta subsp. livingstonii)

Commelina subulata 50183

records: San, Bandiagara-Mopti, Koulikoro

notes: erect, 10 to 60 cm high, leaves very narrow (linear), 3 to 15 cm long and 1 to 5 mm wide, flowers apricot yellow, rarely blue, 3 petals, one of which is highly reduced, spathe divided into triangular part and a long “beak” joined to it at base, triangular part of spathe free (not fused) all the way down to peduncle, spathe connected by a very short peduncle (less than 5 mm), no underground stems


[inflorescence dense, subtended by spathe-like leafy bract, with lips not pressed against each other; flowers inserted individually at axis of fairly large bracteoles; petals fused to each other at base forming a tube, 5-6 fertile stamens]

Cyanotis lanata 50183

records: Koulikoro, Koro to Kiri, Kita, Sanga, Niono, Yanfolila (Boudet); in northern Dogon country mostly beside seasonal ponds in rocky areas (Kikara, Kubewel), farther south also common in villages in the plateau (Bendiely, Segue, Diangassagou) (JH)

habitat: fields, rocky areas, occasionally inundated areas

notes: erect rigid stem, frequently ramified, 6 to 35 cm tall, stem distinctly purple shaded; leaf narrowly oblong-lanceolate 4-6 cm x 0.3-0.8 cm; flowers grouped in terminal glomerules, with bracts/spathes 2-4 cm having a single flower, spathe sickle-shaped (falciform), very short (7 mm long), only top of flower is visible after opening (7 to 10 AM), 3 similar petals, welded to a tube at the base, rounded and free above, petals blue, purple, pink or white, 5 to 6 stamens with long blue or violet hairs, with bright yellow anthers, often in fields (e.g. peanut), leaves 3 to 7 mm wide, 5 to 8 cm long; flowers Sept-Oct


Floscopa glomerata subsp. glomerata

records: Gao, Koutiala, Sotuba (Boudet)

habitate: depressions, swamps

notes: erect or crawling-ascendant, not much ramified, stems 20-50 cm; leaf sessile, oblong-lanceolate 5-12 cm x 0.5-1.2 cm, not attenuated at base (sheathing stem); inflorescence dense with 5-15 cymes; sepals light brown, petals mauve; capsule with 2 sections

Murdannia simplex

records: Gourma, Sikasso, Bandiagara to Kani-Kombole (Boudet)

notes: perennial, hard erect stems 25-60 cm; sessile leaf, linear or linear-lanceolate 7-30 cm x 0.3-0.12 cm; weak panicle, bracts shorter than cymes; 3 equal petals, blue-violet; capsule with 3 sections

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