Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

Cruciferae (now included in Brassicaceae)

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Cruciferae (now included in Brassicaceae)


Citrullus (leaves deeply-lobed)

Citrullus colocynthis (syn Colocynthis vulgaris) 50205

records: Gao, In Tessalit, Lac Faguibine, Timbuktu (Boudet); Timbuktu area, Hombori, Sangha (JH)

habitat: sub-Saharan sands

notes: trailing vine; pennatilobate leaf 8-12 cm x 6-8 cm, based 3-nerved, covered by coarse hairs; petiole 3-6 cm; petiole and stems coarse; tendril bifurcating closer to tip than to base; stem fluted (cannelé); large male flowers 2-2.5 mm wide with obtuse tip, peduncle 1.5-2 cm; female flowers on roughly globular ovary with peduncle 1-1.5 cm, and with small obovate stipule at base of peduncle

ethnobotany: bitter-tasting, not eaten by people, s.t. eaten by livestock

Citrullus lanatus (watermelon, cultivated and wild) 50699

varieties of fruit:

a) for eating raw (red inside, round or oval) 50206

b) for cooking as vegetable (greenish inside, round, smaller) 50207

c) for dark brown seeds 50683

d) for light-colored seeds 50684

varieties of dried seeds (Timbuktu)

a) dark brown (KCh fombu) 50706

b) light-colored, small (KCh musa-musa) 50707

c) light-colored, large (KCh kaney) 50708

records (wild): Niono, Adrar, Sanga, Timbuktu (Boudet); Hombori, Douentza area (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: trailing vine; pennatilobate leaf 10-15 cm x 7-12 cm, base 3-nerved, short pubescence mainly on nerves; petiole 5-15 cm; petiole and stem with short woolly pubescence when young; tendril bifurcating 4-5 cm from base (often closer to base than to tip); 5 lobes of flower have pointed tips; small male flowers (16-20 mm wide), peduncle 1.5-2 cm; female flowers on roughly globular ovary, peduncle 1-2 cm, no stipule

ethnobotany: edible raw (esp. red-fleshed); some varieties (green, globular) cooked as vegetable; three varieties of seeds are dried and sold in Timbuktu for eating or cooking (Timbuktu Songhay fombu, kaney, musamusa)


Coccinea grandis 50210

records: Goundam, Dire, Galo, Mopti-Bandiagara (Boudet); Walo, Beni, Bounou (JH)

habitat: thickets on wet sandy-clayey soil

notes: scrambling or liana; leaf variable (pentagonal or digitilobate), 5-12 cm long and wide, 5-nerved at base; petiole 2-5 cm; tendril simple (not bifurcating); male flower pale yellow 3-4 cm wide, 5 lobes with veinlets, peduncle 3-5 cm; female flower on oblong-lanceolate (i.e. narrow) ovary; oblong fruit the size of pigeon egg, green with white marbling when unripe, becoming half green half red, then entirely scarlet red when ripe (cf. Kedrostis hirtella)

ethnobotany: not usually eaten

Colocynthis (see Citrullus colocynthis)

Corallocarpus epigaeus

specimen 2004-472 (Dianwely) (JH)

Ctenolepis cerasiformis 50212

records: In Tillit, Gossi, Bara (Boudet); Boui (JH)

habitat: with Acacia senegal, brousse tigree

notes: twining vine with thin stems; tendrils simple; leaf trilobate, with smaller lobes and dentations, 3-nerved at base, short hairs; petiole 2-5 cm, with a leaflike bract at base with comb-like points under flower; tiny green-white flower 4-5 mm wide, star-shaped male flowers grouped 4-6 on axillary peduncle 2-4 cm; female flowers on globular ovary with tiny pedicel 2-3 mm; spherical berry-like fruit 1-1.2 cm wide, smooth, bright red at maturity, on short peduncle 2-4 mm.

ethnobotany: not usually eaten


Cucumis ficifolius (syn C. abyssinicus, in part C. figarei)

records: none (Boudet)

notes: perennial, usually prostrate, thickened rootstock

taxonomy: very close to C. pustulatus (former “C. figarei” is distributed between these two spp.)

Cucumis figarei var. ficifolius (see C. pustulatus)

Cucumis melo subsp. agrestis (wild) 50213

records: Gao, Adrar, Timbuktu, Djenne, Sanga, Bamako (Boudet); Tin Hamma north of Gao, Hombori, Tupere, Walo, Douentza, Konna (JH)

habitat: sandy, with sunlight

notes: trailing; leaf 5-9 cm long and wide, contour sinuous (not deeply lobed) with tiny dentations all around, base 3-nerved; petiole 3-10 cm; petiole and stem covered with long rigid hairs 2-3 mm; tendrils simple; bright yellow flowers 1.5-2 cm wide, peduncle 1-1.5 cm, male flowers by 2-4; smooth ovoid fruit 3-4 cm x 2-3 cm with longitudinal dark-green bands, hairy when young

ethnobotany: usually not eaten

Cucumis metuliferus (in Berhaut) (also commercial "horned melon" = kiwano)

records: none (Boudet)

habitat: lateritic savanna (Berhaut)

notes: liana or trailer; leaf roughly pentagonal 5-10 cm long and wide, edges with fine dentations; petiole 3-7 cm; petiole and stems covered with long white semi-rigid hairs; tendril simple 15-20 cm; isolated sessile golden yellow male flower 1.5-2 cm wide, tips of flower lobes rounded, fine striations on lobes; ovary covered with pointed projections; fruit 8-10 cm x 4-5 cm, red or red-orange when ripe, covered with thorny excrescences 1 cm long, pyramidal, peduncle 3-4 cm; grains dirty white 5-6 mm x 3 mm

Cucumis prophetarum subsp. prophetarum 50214

records: Timbuktu, Gao, Dire-Bandiagara (Boudet); Tin Hamma north of Gao, Hombori, Tupere, Douentza (JH)

habitat: sandy

notes: trailing; leaf digitilobate 3-7 cm x 3-5 cm, usually 5-lobed, deep separations between lobes, base 5-nerved (or 3-nerved); yellowish male flowers 6-10 mm wide with pointed tips, tiny peduncle 1-2 mm; ovary covered with white hairs; fruit 3 cm long with 8-9 dark-green longitudinal bands, covered by many short bristles 3 mm long

ethnobotany: inedible

Cucumis pustulatus 50215 (syn C. figarei var. ficifolius, in part C. figarei) (not in Berhaut)

records: NE Degbeda (Boudet [C. figarei], only record)); [small yellow horned melon, if correctly identified]Adia, Djenne, Tongo Tongo (JH)

habitat: inter-dune depressions

notes: trailing or scandent (scrambling) perennial with woody rootstock; leaf rough (shortly and harshly scabrid), often divided below the middle; stem turns blackish when dry; fruit yellowish or greenish 5-8 cm long, with stout short tubercules; small grains 4-5 mm x 2-3 mm

taxonomy: see also C. ficifolius

Cucumis sativus (cultivated cucumber)

Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin, squash) (not in Berhaut)

habitat: cultivated

Kedrostis foetidissima 50218 (includes two variants)

records: Koro, Gao, Bossobougou (Boudet)

habitat: liana (undershrub), common in Niger inundation area

notes: liana; leaf cordiform-hastate (not lobed) 6-10 cm x 4-6 cm, base deeply cordate, tip slightly rounded, base 5-nerved; thin petiole 1.5-2 cm; soft hairs on petiole & stem; tendril simple 6-10 cm; yellow flowers 5-6 mm wide; male flowers by 3-4 on raceme 1-2 cm; nearly sessile fusiform (spindle-shaped) ovary; fruits red when ripe, 1 cm wide, conical with expanded base, tip in form of long thin beak

Kedrostis hirtella (in Berhaut)

records: none (Boudet)

notes: liana or trailer; leaf variable 3- or 5-lobed, 8-12 cm x 6-10 cm, lobes divided to about halfway point, base 3-nerved but lower nerves quickly bifurcate at 3-4 mm from base; thick petiole 1-3 cm; young petiole and stem covered with soft hairs mixed with a few subthorny hairs; tendrils usual bifurcate at 1 cm from base; greenish flower 7-8 mm wide, male flowers by 3-10 on raceme 2-3 cm; fusiform ovary on peduncle 0.5-1 cm; oblong fruit 5-7 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, green with lighter bands, becoming red, fruit's tip is a rounded point


Lagenaria siceraria 50691 (gourd/calabash plant, cultivated)

main varieties (based on size and shape of fruit)

a) large, globular fruit 50220

b) mid-sized globular fruit 50221

c) small globular fruit (for ladles) 50222

d) elongated fruit 50219

habitat: widely cultivated in Mali (JH)

notes: trailing; leaf 10-20 cm long and wide, roughly triangular, base 3- or 5-nerved, long petiole 3-10 cm with 2 lateral glands at top; tendril bifurcating; white flowers, 4-5 cm wide or longer, long peduncle 10-25 cm

ethnobotany: varieties with small, large, and medium sized fruits are used for different purposes (small = ladles, medium = milk gourds or small calabashes, large = full-sized calabashes); a "calabash" is a hardened gourd fruit that has been sawed in half into a bowl-shape; a "gourd" is more or less globular (some types preserve the neck, others have a round opening at the top)


Luffa cylindrica 50223 (syn L. aegyptiaca) (sponge plant, cultivated & wild)

records: Bamako, Negala (Boudet)

habitat: anthropic thickets, hedges, edges of canals

notes: annual liana; leaf usually pentagonal 10-20 cm long and wide, 5-7 lobes ending in points, no dentations or sublobes; scabrous surface (hairs not visible), 5-nerved at base; petiole 4-7 cm or longer; stem 5-angled; ramified tendrils with 3-5 branches separating 4-5 cm from base; golden yellow flowers 5-7 cm wide, closing up at dusk for the night, each lobe has 5 longitudinal nerves, numerous male flowers on a racele; flower has 5 or 6 lobes (vs. 5 for other Cucurbitaceae); fruit oblong 20-30 cm x 5-7 cm, white spots on young fruit, interior gradually becoming hollow except for fibers and seeds
Momordica (herbaceous lianas, cf. Mukia and Coccinea)

Momordica balsamina 50224

records: Gao, Boni, Menaka, Bossobougou (Boudet); Timbuktu, Hombori, Dianwely, Douentza (JH)

habitat: sandy, fallows, grazing pastures, beside ponds, thickets

notes: herbaceous liana; pentagonal leaf, lobes with angular tips (not rounded), 3-9 cm long and wide; petiole and stem pubescent esp. at knots; stem thin with 5 angles; thin simple tendril; male flower 3.5 cm wide on long peduncle with a foliaceous bract just under flower, tips of flower lobes rounded; ovary on long peduncle, with small cordiform foliaceous bract near base of peduncle; fruit 3-4 cm x 2.5-3.5 cm, smooth or more often with short points on exterior, red-orange when ripe

Momordica charantia 50225

records: Djenne, Fereibo (Boudet)

habitat: wet sandy areas, around villages, in Niger R. inundation zone

notes: liana; digitilobate pentagonal leaf with deep separations between lobes, each lobe 2-6 cm x 1-2.5 cm, with rounded tips; petiole 2 cm; simple tendril; yellow flowers, male flower 3cm wide on peduncle 4-7 cm with small foliaceous bract near base; female fruit on peduncle without bract; fruit covered with conspicuous spines, red-orange when ripe, 3-6 cm x 2-3 cm
Mukia (status of this genus likely to be revised, close to some Cucumis spp.)

Mukia maderaspatana 50227

records: Bamako, Macina, Niono (Boudet); Kikara, Douentza, Anda (JH)

habitat: wet shady areas, ruderal

notes: herbaceous liana (cf. Momordica, Coccinea); leaf variable, a slender triangle, or with shallow lobes on sides just below midline, edges dentate, 3-7 cm x 3-6 cm; petiole 0.5-3 cm; petiole and stems scabrous; tendril simple; small yellow flowers in subsessile glomerules; small spherical berry 5-6 mm wide, bright red when mature
Physedra (see Ruthalicia eglandulosa)

Ruthalicia eglandulosa (syn Physedra eglandulosa [FWTA2 1.214])

records: Timbuktu (Boudet, only record)

notes: leaves digitately 6-7 lobed almost to the base; lobes of leaf lanceolate, acutely acuminate, middle one up to 17 cm long; petiole pilose with long jointed hairs; male flowers racemose on peduncles; corolla deeply lobed and nervose


Trochomeria macrocarpa subsp. macrocarpa (syns T. dalzierri, T. atacorensis)

records: Gourma, Sikasso, Klela (Boudet)

habitat: degraded brousse, gravel

notes: trailer with perennial bulbous root 4-6 cm or more wide; leaf usually trilobate, s.t. 5-lobed, occasionally unlobed; depth of lobe separation variable (null to extreme); leaf covered with fine but coarse hairs; petiole 1-1.5 cm; petiole pubescent; tendril simple; white flowers 4-5 cm wide in star-shape with 5 linear lobes; male flowers at summet of filiform peduncle 3-4 cm with pedicel 2-3 cm; globular ovaries on short peduncle 0.5 cm; rounded ovoid fruit 2.2 cm x 1.4-2 cm, green with white spots when unripe, bright red when mature; white seeds in white pulp; fruits isolated or by 2.

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