Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

Fabaceae--Faboideae (= Papilionoideae)

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Fabaceae--Faboideae (= Papilionoideae)

characters: flowers are zygomorphic with specialiized structure: large upper petal (“banner”) envelops other petals, often reflexing when flower blooms; the two adjacent petals (“wings”) surround the two bottom petals, which are fused together at the apex though free at the base, forming a boat-like structure (“keel”); always 10 stamens, with filaments fused (monadelphous flower) or nine stamens fused with one remaining free (diadelphous flower)
tribes include; Abreae, Aeschynomeneae, Bossiaeeae, Crotalariae, Dalbergieae, Desmodieae, Indigofereae, Millettieae, Phaseoleae, Psoraleae, Robineae, Sophoreae


Indigofereae is sister to

Millettieae/Abreae/Phaseoleae(in part)

Phaseoleae (sensu stricto), Desmodiae, Psoraleae
tribe Abreae

Abrus precatorius 50283

records: Bamako, Timbuktu region (Boudet); Kikara, scattered in Dogon country (JH)

notes: sprawling plant with subligneous base; leaf 4-8 cm long with 8-16 pairs of leaflets; thick pods 2-3 cm x 1-1.2 cm, tip in beak; hard pea-like bright red seeds with black spots, often visible in half-open, twisted pod

ethnobotany: attractive red and black seeds used in children’s jewelry

native name: may be combined with Erythrina spp., which have similar bright red seeds (with no black)

tribe Aeschynomeneae
Aeschynomene (tall herbs 0.5-1.5 m in moist or swampy areas, resemble Sesbania spp. but fruits very different; only A. indica is common in Dogon country_

Aeschynomene afraspera

records: Macina, Sanga, Bamako (Boudet); in Gao area probably misidentification of A. indica (JH)

habitat: swamps, inundated zones

notes: undershrub, 1-1.5 m tall; stem herbaceous, thick and soft, hollow, lower part of stem covered with tiny warts (verrucose); 25-35 pairs of long leaflets each 1.2-2 cm x 0.3-0.4 cm, leaflets usually drying brown; flowers in axillary raceme, standard golden yellow, keel pubescent; large pods 7-10 cm x 0.7-0.8 cm, 8-10 segments (violet black when mature), closely warted when mature, only slight joint indentations

Aeschynomene crassicaulis

records: Mopti, Segou, Bourem, Macina (Boudet)

habitat: aquatic, stems rooted in mud

notes (FWTA2): stem procumbent and rooting in the mud, often half submerged; stem densely hispid, woody; leaves 8-15 cm long, leaflets distinctly toothed, pilose on the margins and midrib beneath; stipules 1.5 cm, pilose outside, caducous; flower 2-3 cm long; fruits 5-7 segmented, 5 cm x 1.5 cm, pilose, tapered to a beak

Aeschynomene cristata [get image]

records: lac Debo (Boudet)

habitat: swamps

notes (FWTA2 vol 1 p. 578): soft-stemmed undershrub; stipules lanceolate, very acute, 2 cm long, closely nerved, much produced at the base; leaflets about 20 pairs, oblong-oblanceolate, about 1.5 cm long, venose; large flower 3 cm long (vs. up to 1.5 cm for other spp.), keel with a large crest on the margin; glabrous fruits 8 cm long

Aeschynomene indica 50284

records: Niono, Ouan Foras, San, Bamako, Kabara-Mopti, Gao, Labbezanga (Boudet); Gao, Ansongo, Kubewel, Kikara, the common Aeschynomene in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: muddy places near rivers and swamps

notes: undershrub, 1-1.5 m; stem slender and smooth; leaf 5-8 cm with 10-25 pairs of short thin leaflets 0.8-1 cm x 2-3 mm raggedly sub-opposite, leaflets usually drying glaucous-green; pale yellow flowers, standard has 9 red stripes on outside; pods 4 cm x 0.4 cm, 7-10 segments, joint indentations on one side (other side straight-edged)

Aeschynomene nilotica [not in Berhaut]

records: Macina, Bandiagara-Mopti, Bourem, Gao, San (Boudet)

habitat: aquatic (may float in deep water)

notes: up to 1.7 m; stem herbaceous, thick and soft; leaves with 24-80 pairs of long leaflets 1-2 cm long; axillary inflorescence of 3-8 flowers with yellow or greenish-yellow standard and wings, keel glabrous, peduncle pubescent; linear straight pods 4-8.5 cm long with 5-10 segments, pods smooth when mature

Aeschynomene schimperi

records: Koutiala, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: moist places

notes: erect undershrub, 0.5-0.8 m high; stems with small erect hairs (shortly hispid-scabrid, half-woody); leaves with 8-25 pairs of opposite leaflets; isolated flower on hairy peduncle 2-3 cm; standard golden yellow with very small striations on back; flat pod 4-5 cm x 0.6-0.7 cm with tip in corner form; 10-12 segments, no joint indentations (straight on both margins), brown-black when mature

Aeschynomene uniflora [get photo]

records: none (Boudet)

notes; undershrub, 0.6-1 m tall or more; stems hispid-scabrid (half-woody); leaf 6-10 cm with 15-20 pairs of opposite leaflets; isolated yellow flower at tip of axillary peduncle 3-4 cm; pods 4-5 cm x 0.6-0.7 cm, 5-6 segments each with a raised plateau in center, joint indentation on both sides (FWTA2 says on one side)


Arachis hypogaea 50288 (cultivated peanut) [see also Vigna subterranea]

records: cultivated throughout Dogon country (JH)

notes: herb 20-30 cm, paripennate leaf with 2 pairs of opposite obovate leaflets, each 2.5-4 cm x 1-2.5 cm, tip rounded or emarginate, mucronate; flowers with yellow corolla, drooping when withering and entering ground; pod develops in ground

native term: usually combined with groundnut (Vigna subterranea), the two being distinguished by modifiers

Stylosanthes fruticosa 50333

records: Sanga, Macina, Yanfolila, Bamako (Boudet); Kikara (JH)

habitat: sandy prairies, old fields

notes: bushy plant with many branches arising from a woody rootstock, can be up to 1 m high; stems covered with hairs; alternate trifoliate leaves with secondary nerves nearly vertical; flowers in short terminal spike surrounded by numerous ciliate bracts; corolla yellow, standard wider than long; short pod 0.5-0.8 cm long with 1 or 2 segments, ending in a short curved beak 1-1.5 mm long

taxonomy: very close to S. erecta

ethnobotany: grazed by livestock


Zornia glochidiata 50348

records: Sanga, Gao, Segou (Boudet); ubiquitous in central Mali, may form extensive prairies (JH)

notes: semi-prostrate or erect, 15-30 cm; alternate bifoliate leaves, elliptical-lanceolate 2-4.5 cm x 0.5-1 cm; flower orange-yellow, bracts longer than corolla; articulated pod 1-1.2 cm long with 2-4 segments

ethnobotany: harvested and brought into towns for sale as animal fodder late in dry season

tribe Crotalariae
Crotalaria (erect herbs, yellow flowers tend to follow the sun, in native languages the pods are often called “peanuts” of hare or some other animal)

note: most common in Dogon and montane Songhay country are C. podocarpa and C. retusa

a) leaves trifoliate:

Crotalaria naragutensis [not in Berhaut]

records: Kabara

habitat: sands, rocky outcrops, roadsides

notes: [Afr. Flow. Plants Database:] perennial, well-branched, stipules tiny or absent, racemes long and closely many-flowered, standard variably lined purple; [from photo of CIRAD specimen] trifoliate leaf on long pedicel with oval leaflets, fairly compact pods (light brown) with conspicuous beaks in dense clusters

Crotalaria atrorubens 50293 [close to C. goreensis]

records: Niono, Macina, Bandiagara (Boudet); Beni (fields below village) (JH)

habitat: old cultivated fields, sand

notes: erect; leaflets obovate, lateral leaflets 1.5 cm x 0.4-0.7 cm, terminal leaflet distinctly bigger (but not twice as long); petiole 3-7 cm; 3 equal petiolules 1 mm; whole plant covered with soft hairs 1 mm; tiny filiform stipules 3-6 mm long; flowers yellow s.t. with brownish tint, bunched at tip of racemes; each flower covered by a calyx with filiform teeth and woolly hairs

Crotalaria comosa50294

records: Yanfolila (Boudet); Hombori, Douentza (near pond) (JH)

notes: erect to 1 m or more; stems fluted esp. near top; leaflets usually obovate-elliptical esp. on main stem and in lower parts, 5-9 cm x 1-3 cm; nearer to top, leaves become long and thin (linear-lanceolate) 12-15 cm x 0.8-1.2 cm; hairs on bottom on leaf; petiole 3-6 cm, equal petiolules 2 mm; petioles and stems pubescent; no stipules; flowers in dense terminal spike 25-50 cm long; corolla yellow, standard striated on both sides; spike may have flowers near tip with fruits underneath separated by a space (with filiform bracts where early fruits have fallen); yellow-brown cylindrical pods 1.2-1.4 cm x 0.5-0.6 cm, with tiny beak, bunched densely facing down on lower part of spike

Crotalaria cylindrocarpa 50295

records: Gao (island in rapids), Bamako; Hombori (JH)

notes: erect to 50 cm or 1 m; leaflets elliptical or obovate-elliptical 2-6 cm x 0.5-2.5 cm, middle leaflet larger than lateral ones; top of leaf punctuated with white points (magnifying glass); petiole 1-4 cm, petiolules 1-2 mm, 2 falciform stipules 6-10 mm x 2 mm; flowers in terminal raceme 5-10 cm with yellow flowers, standard reddish outside; pods 2.5 x 0.8 cm (0.5 mm thick), marbled with brownish spots, with beak.

Crotalaria goreensis [not in CIRAD]

records: Niono, Kabara, Segou (Boudet)

habitat: moist sand

notes: to 30-80 cm; leaflets obovate to elliptical-lanceolate 2-6 cm x 0.7-2.5 cm with rounded tip; 2 leafy falciform stipules 1-2 cm x 0.2-0.4 cm (at base); flowers in conical terminal spike, often dense, 2-8 cm long; yellow corolla, standard reddish above; bloated pods 1.2-1.3 cm x 0.6-0.8 cm, with curved beak, densely bunched

Crotalaria hyssopifolia

records: Yanfolila, Kati, Sikasso (Boudet)

habitat: swampy areas

notes: 25-60 cm; small leaflets obovate-elliptical 1-2 cm x 0.3-0.6 cm; petiole 1/3 top ½ of length of leaf; no stipules; flowers spread out on spiciform racemes, corolla yellow, standard may be streaked with red, pedicels 4-5 mm (equal to length of corolla); nearly spherical capsule 3 mm with white pubescence

Crotalaria lathyroides 50296

records: Diafarabé (Boudet); Kikara (JH)

notes: 20-50 cm; leaflets linear-lanceolate 2-7 cm x 0.2-0.7 cm, no lateral nerves; petiole 1.5-2.5 cm, equal petiolules 1 mm, no stipules; tiny hairs on stem and petioles; yellow flowers in axillary terminal raceme 10-25 cm; flowers clustered near tip, standard may be striated with red on outside; pod 1.5-1.8 cm x 0.4-0.5 cm, with beak

Crotalaria ochroleuca

records: Macina, Mopti-to-Koulikoro

notes: to 1 m; leaflets linear-elliptical or lanceolate 4-12 cm x 0.3-0.9 cm; petiole 1-3 cm before lateral leaflets; no stipules; flowers spread out on terminal spiciform raceme 15-30 cm; flowers 2 cm long, standard pale yellow with violet streaks, lateral petals 1.5-2 cm long, streaked light violet; bloated pods 4-5 cm x 1 cm, yellow to orange seeds

Crotalaria podocarpa 50297

records: Gao, Sanga-Bandiagara (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Anda, Beni (JH)

habitat: dunes, gravel

notes: 30-50 cm; leaflets obovate-elliptical 2-5 cm x 1-2 cm, mostly glabrous; 3-4 lateral nerves; petiole 1.2-3.5 cm, petioles and stems covered with hairs 1-2 mm; large leafy stipules 1-3 cm x 0.3-0.6 cm covering base of petiole; few flowers (2 to 5) at tip of raceme 3-10 cm long, corolla yellow, standard often tinted on outside with reddish brown; pod rather bloated, 3 cm x 1 cm, with beak

Crotalaria senegalensis

records: Gossi (pond), Segou

habitat: sandy and sandy-clayey soil

notes: spreads on ground; leaflets 1.5-2.5 cm x 0.8-1.5 cm, 5-6 faint lateral nerves; petiole 1-2 cm, 3 equal petiolules 1 mm, thin pubescence on petioles; 2 filiform stipules 2-3 mm long, often curved; 3-7 yellow flowers in spread-out spike 3-7 cm, standard streaked with red; bloated pods 1.3 cm x 0.7 cm (increasing in thickness from base to near tip), small beak
b) leaves digitate by 5

Crotalaria saharae

records: In Ehtissan (Sahara) (Boudet)

ref.: Ibis (Algeria)

c) leaves simple:

Crotalaria arenaria 50292

records: Timbuktu (Boudet); Timbuktu (JH)

habitat: dry sandy savanna

notes: sprawling herb; leaves simple (not trifoliate); small oval leaves 1-2.5 cm x 0.6-1.2 cm (widest part closer to base than to tip) on very short yellow petioles 1 mm; whole plant covered with short dense hairs (hence silvery look); flowers spaced out on raceme; yellow flower; obovoid pod 1 cm long covered with hairs, short beak

Crotalaria calycina

records: San, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: humid zones

notes: to 15-60 cm; stem with dense long golden hairs; simple leaves, lanceolate 5-15 cm x 0.5-1.5 cm, subsessile, tip pointed; flowers in terminal raceme with 2-3 flowers, or isolated at leaf axil; yellow corolla 2 cm long, calyx 2-2.5 cm long with lanceolate lobes covered with dense long red-gold hairs; cylindrical pod 3 cm x 0.5-0.6 cm, with beak

Crotalaria leprieurii

records: Bandiagara-to-Mopti, Yanfolila (Boudet)

notes: 30-60 cm; stem hairy; leaf linear-lanceolate 3-10 cm x 0.4-0.9 cm, sharply pointed tip; short linear stipules against petiole, barely visible; small yellow flowers in axillary or terminal spike, corolla 1-1.2 cm long, calyx 4 mm long with 5 acuminate teeth 2 mm, standard streaked with red; pod 1 cm x 0.3 cm, beaked

Crotalaria retusa 50298

records: Niono, Yanfolila (Boudet); Anda, Beni, Djenne (JH)

habitat: wooded savanna

notes: erect herb 30-80 cm with several branches; simple (not trifoliate) alternate leaves, dark green, oblong or obovate-elliptical 4-8 cm x 1.5-3.5 cm (widest part closer to tip than to base), top glabrous, bottom with dense short hairs; short petiole 2-5 mm; spiciform terminal inflorescence 15-25 cm; flowers with yellow corolla, standard partly purple; cylindrical pod 4-5 cm x 1.2 cm with tiny beak, becoming dark brown when mature, 20 smooth grains

tribe Dalbergieae

Andira inermis subsp. grandiflora 50287

records: Ouarsada, Macina (Boudet); Diangassagou, absent from northern and central Dogon country (JH; previous record from Hombori was incorrect)

notes: tree; imparipennate leaf with 5-7 pairs of opposite leaflets, oblong-elliptical, 4-9 cm x 1.5-4; pink flowers on terminal panicle 20-30 cm long; ovoid drupe with single pit


Dalbergia melanoxylon 50301

records: Nioro, Mossi, Sanga (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Kikara, Boui (JH)

habitat: sand (Boudet)

notes: tree to 6 m, thorny; leaves can be in fascicles of 3-5, each leaf imparipennate 4-7 cm long with 3-5 pairs of opposite leaflets, leaflets often indented at top; white flowers in terminal panicle; flat pod, brownish when mature with 2 grains

ethnobotany: wood very hard, blackish on inside (feature familiar to many Dogon)

Pterocarpus [trees, yellow flowers, flat winged fruits]

Pterocarpus erinaceus 50322

records: Macina, Yanfolila, Bamako (Boudet); occasional in hills in northern Dogon country, also in rocky plateau (Bendiely) (JH)

notes: tree; leaf imparipennate 15-25 cm long with 4-5 pairs of alternate or subopposite leaflets, each leaflet elliptical 5-10 cm x 3-6 cm; yellow flowers, winged fruits nearly circular

Pterocarpus lucens 50323

records: Hombori, Koulikoro, Bandiagara, Tikimssa (Boudet); well-known in Dogon country, seen e.g. in plain near Gasa, conspicuous in July when foliage turns bright yellow (JH)

habitat: humid but drained areas (Boudet)

notes: tree; branching out from near ground level; leaf imparipennate 5-15 cm long with 3-4 pairs of opposite or subopposite leaflets, each leaflet elliptical 3-5 cm x 2-4 cm; golden yellow flowers often when tree defoliated; flat winged fruit with one seed

ethnobotany: leaves sold in markets for animal fodder (leaves turn yellow)
tribe Desmodieae

Alysicarpus glumaceus subsp. glumaceus var. glumaceus

records: Tesseguela, Tin Zazi, Koyo, Nioro (Boudet)

Alysicarpus ovalifolius 50285

records: Gao, Segou, Markala (Boudet); Hombori, Anda, Segue, and generally throughout northern Dogon country (JH)

habitat: sandy, often beside cultivated fields (JH)

notes: herb 30-60 cm high or sprawling, simple alternate leaves, oval or oblong 3-7 x 1.2-2.5 cm, 4-6 lateral nerves; small flowers yellow and red in pairs with 1 cm separation along raceme; articulated pod 2-2.5 cm with 6-7 segments

Alysicarpus rugosus subsp. rugosus 50286

records: Yanfolila, Koulikoro (Boudet)

habitat: humid areas

notes: herb 60 xm to 1.5 m high, simple alternate leaves, oblong to lanceolate, 5-12 cm x 0.8-1.5 or -2 cm; inflorescence in terminal raceme 8-12 cm, flowers in pairs in upper part of raceme, pale yellow with violet on lower petals; pod 1-1.2 cm long with 4-5 nearly separated segments

Desmodium hirtum 50302 (very similar to D. setigerum)

records: Kabara, Bamako, Niono (Boudet); Beni (JH)

habitat: swamps

notes: herb; trifoliate leaf; stems with blond hairs 1-1.5 mm sticking out; leaflets oval or obovate 1.5-4 cm x 1-2.5 cm; small pod with 5-6 segments; indentations between segments on one side (not as deep as for D. setigerum)

Desmodium setigerum (very similar to D. hirtum) [not in CIRAD]

records: Sanga, Kabara, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: bank of ponds

notes: herb; trifoliate stem; hairs applied on stems (not sticking out); pod with 4-5 segments; segments held together only by a narrow ligature

Desmodium velutinum

records: Yanfolila, Bamako (Boudet)

notes: to 1 m or more; cylindrical stem and pedioles covered with velvety rust-red pubescence; simple leaf (occasionally trifoliate), pubescent on both sides, oval, 7-15 cm x 5-8 cm; dense axillary or terminal flower spike; pods bunched, 1.5-2 cm long, 5-6 segments

tribe Galegeae
Astragalus [none in Berhaut]

Astragalus trigonus (syn A. pseudotrigonus)

records: Saharan [Boudet]

habitat: near oueds

Astragalus vogelii

records: Saharan [Boudet]

habitat: sand, near oueds

tribe Indigofereae

Cyamopsis senegalensis [get photo]

records: near Timbuktu (Boudet)

habitat: sand

notes: similar to Indigoferas; herb (subligneous at base) 30-60 cm; imparipennate leaf 3-6 cm with 2-3 pairs (illustration shows 3-4 pairs) of opposite leaflets, oblong-linear 1.5-3.5 cm x 0.4-0.8 cm; a few bluish mauve flowers on axillary raceme 4-10 cm; linear pods facing obliquely upward with furrows on valves, long beak, pink seeds

reference: also Senegal, Ethiopia, Arabia

Indigofera [similar in habit to Tephrosia]

general characters: herbs or bushy shrubs; usually imparipennate leaves; small flowers on axillary racemes or occasionally in open or subcapitate panicles; corolla usually red or pink; very thin pods usually dehiscent; hairs typically biramous (two prongs) under magnification

sections (subgenera) of Indigofera

[not known: dendroides]

Alternifoliae (oblongifolia)

Amecarpus (aspera, hochstetteri, senegalensis, sessiliflora)

Brachycarpae (cordifolia, diphylla)

Dissitiflorae (pilosa)

Hirsutae (astragalina, hirsuta)

Indigofera (coerulea, tinctoria)

Latestipulatae (berhautiana, strobilifera)

Microcarpae (microcarpa)

Monanthae (geminata, nigritana, omissa)

Paniculatae (bracteolata, nigricans, pulchra)

Simplicifoliae (simplicifolia, suaveolens)

Stenophyllae (leprieurii, prieureana, stenophylla)

Viscosae (argentea, secundiflora)
more or less woody (shrubby bushes): coerulea, oblongifolia, omissa, pulchra, tinctoria

(cf. Cyamopsis)

key based on leaf structure (no info: disjuncta, suaveolens)

simple (non-compound leaf)

cordifolia (oval, alternate leaves) (from photo)

leprieurii (6-10 cm, elliptical-lanceolate)

simplicifolia (3-6 cm, lanceolate to elliptical-lanceolate)

alternate leaflets on one petiole

oblongofolia (total 3-5 leaflets per petiole)

spicata (total 10-11 leaflets per petiole)

bifoliate (two leaflets)

diphylla (leaflet at end of petiole much larger than other on lateral petiolule)

trifoliate (three leaflets, occasionally with one lateral leaflet absent)

pilosa (terminal 2.5-4 cm long, lateral much smaller 1-1.5 cm long, one lateral s.t. absent)

hochstetteri (from photo)

imparipennate with 2+ pairs of opposite leaflets (approx ratio length-to-width indicated) shape and number of pairs of lateral leaflets (with length)

linear (8-to-1)

2-3 aspera (2-3 cm)

oblong-linear (12-to-1)

2-4 stenophylla (5-6 cm)

oblanceolate (several times longer than wide, widest part near tip)

2-3 geminata (0.7-1.2 cm)

oblong-elliptical (4-to-1)

2-3 senegalensis (2-3.5 cm)

elliptical (oval, with short or no point, 1.5/3-to-1)

2-3 sessiliflora (0.5-0.9 cm)

2-4 bracteolata (0.4-0.7 cm)

2-5 microcarpa (leaf highly variable, often 0.5-0.9 cm, bottom of leaf with tiny dark green dots)

4 colutea (0.7-1 cm)

5 nigricans (small, from photo)

5-6 secundiflora (0.8-1.5,)

4-12 prieureana (1-2 cm)

6-20 dendroides (0.7-1.5 cm)

obovate or elliptical (2-to-1)

4-5 astragalina (2-3 cm)

4-6 tinctoria (1-2.5 cm, dark green)

oval-elliptical with acute tip (2-to-1)

2 berhautiana (trifoliate on branching stems) (1-1.5 cm)

obovate (teardrop shaped with thick part at top, 1.5/2.5-1)

rounded tip

3 hirsuta (1.5-5 cm)

rounded or broadly acute tip

2-3 omissa (1.5-2.5 cm)

3 (?) coerulea (from photo)

mucronate tip

3-7 pulchra (0.6-1.2 cm, Berhaut says “obovale” but illustrations & measurements elliptical)

ovate (thickest near bottom), with pointed tip

4 (?) strobilifera

keys based on pods (Indigofera spp.)

[no info: berhautiana, bracteolata, nigricans]

pods clustered (10+):

pods short, no conspicuous curvature: astragalina, microcarpa, secundiflora, senegalensis (flat), sessiliflora, spicata

pods distinctly curved: coerulea, oblongofolia

curved vs. straight pods:

straight: aspera, colutea, dendroides, geminata (paired), leprieurii, omissa, pilosa, prieureana, pulchra (short), simplicifolia, stenophylla

gently curved: argentea, hirsuta, tinctoria

noticeably curved: coerulea (clumped), diphylla, hochstetteri (segmented), oblongifolia (clumped)

(no info: cordifolia, nigricans)

orientation of pods

facing up

at slight angle (oblique)

leprieurii, pilosa, prieureana, pulchra (very short), stenophylla, tetrasperma

at sharp angle

simplicifolia (often by 2 or 3)

right angles (roughly), long thin

colutea, pilosa (sometimes)

facing down

short, below flowers, more than 10 in a bunch

astragalina, microcarpa (small), secundiflora, senegalensis

long thin, straight--fewer than 10 in a cluster

dendroides (spaced out), omissa

long thin, straight--more than 10 densely bunched

hirsuta, spicata

long thin, gently curved

oblongifolia (1.5 cm), tinctoria (2.5-3 cm)

sharply curved, outside turning up



geminata, simplicifolia (sometimes)

radiating out like spokes from near base of leaf


Indigofera argentea [not in Berhaut]

records: Sahara (Boudet)

habitat: dunes

notes: annual herb 20-50 cm, much-branching, s.t. prostrate, silvery-canescent; photo of Linnaeus type specimen shows leaf with 3 pairs of obovate leaflets; photo of CIRAD specimen has 2-3 pairs of obovate leaflets

references: Gillett, Kew Bull Addn ser 1:1-166 (1958, “Indigofera in Tropical Africa”); Flore du Sahara ed 2 (1983) p. 554; Flore de Mauritanie (1991) vol 1 p. 253

Indigofera aspera 50305

records: Timbuktu, Niono, Nampala (Boudet); Timbuktu (JH)

habitat: psammophile (sandy soil)

notes: diffuse annual herb 2-8 cm; leaf 2-4 cm with 2-3 pairs of opposite leaflets, linear 2-3 cm x 0.2-0.5 cm; crimson flowers bunched on axillary raceme extended out beyond leaves; flat linear pods 2.5 cm x 0.1 cm, slightly curved (falciform) at tip, facing down at an angle, spaced out at top of stem but clustered farther down

Indigofera astragalina 50306 [thus Berhaut and Boudet; see also I. hirsuta var. hirsuta]

records: Gao, Menaka, Sanga, Bamako (Boudet); Beni, Walo, Kubewel, Tongo Tongo, Boui (JH)

habitat: psammophile (sandy soil), invasive

notes: erect annual 25-70 cm; leaf 6-10 cm with 4-5 pairs of opposite leaflets, obovate to elliptical 2-3 cm x 1-1.5 cm, mucronate tip; 2 stipules 1 cm long at base of entire leaf, but no stipels at base of leaflets; flowers in dense axillary spike 6-10 cm, corolla pink; short cylindrical pods facing down at angle in dense clumps below flowers, covered with white hairs, beak of pod is black

taxonomy: African Plant Database treats as syn of I. hirsuta var. hirsuta; LegumeWeb speaks of “much confusion” between the two

Indigofera berhautiana [in Berhaut but not Boudet]

records: none (Boudet)

habitat: sandy plains (Berhaut)

notes: herb 15-30 cm usually erect, leaf 2-3 cm usually with 2 pairs of tiny leaflets (sometimes trifoliate on branches), oval-elliptical 1-1.5 cm x 0.4-0.7 cm with pointed tip, supple and soft with dense silky and silvery pubescence on both sides; isolated bright red flowers at extremity of branches; sessile pod 0.4 cm x 0.1 cm, pubescent

Indigofera bracteolata (resembles I. leptoclada, which occurs in southern Mali)

records: Sikasso, Niono (Boudet)

habitat: psammophile

notes: branched herb 15-50 cm; leaf 1-2 cm with 2-4 pairs, leaflets elliptical 0.4-0.7 cm x 0.2-0.4 cm with rounded tip; bright red flowers isolated or clustered at tip of racemes; flat obovate pod 0.5 cm long bulging in center, with semi-erect hairs on edges

Indigofera coerulea var. occidentalis 50307 [not in Berhaut]

records: Hombori, Goumbou (Boudet); Beni (JH)

habitat: humid or inundatable sandy-clayey depressions

notes: [Afr Flow Pl Database:] stout shrubby plant to 1 m tall with silvery pubescent stems; (from photo of specimen) about 3 pairs of obovate leaflets, thin pods densely clustered, pointing slightly down but curling up

references: Flora Tropical East Africa (1971), section on Papilionoideae; Gillett, Kew Bull. Add. Serie 1:102 (1958); sp. found in Kenya, Socotra, India

Indigofera colutea var. colutea 50308

records: Timbuktu, Tasséguéla (Boudet); Gao (JH)

habitat: sandy soil

notes: herb 15-40 cm; conspicuous hairs on leaves, stems, and fruit; 3-5 pairs of leaflets, elliptical 0.7-1 cm x 0.3-0.4 cm, rounded at both ends; 3-6 flowers on short axillary raceme 2-3 cm long, corolla pink; thin linear cylindrical pod 2-2.3 cm x 0.1-0.5 cm

Indigofera cordifolia [not in Berhaut]

records: Adrar des Iforas (Boudet)

habitat: clayey-rocky soil, sand, gravel

notes: [Afr. Flow. Plant Database:] annual or perennial, simple and erect or branching and diffuse, 10-35 cm long, long white hairs; [photo of CIRAD specimen] much-branched bushy herb, deep woody root, stems and leaves covered with white hairs giving silvery look, alternate leafl including one at base of secondary branch

ethnobotany: consumed by all animals (

references: Flora West Tropical Africa (1958); Flore du Sahara ed 2 (1983) p. 553; Flore de Mauritanie (1991) vol. 1 p. 251; Flora of Egypt (1999) vol .1 p. 310; sp. also occurs in South Asia

Indigofera dendroides [not in CIRAD;]

records: Goundam, Macina, Bamako, Sikasso (Boudet)

habitat: gravel

notes: annual 30-75 cm; stem with fine hairs; leaf 5-8 cm with 6-20 pairs of opposite leaflets, generally getting smaller toward tip of leaf; tiny elliptical leaflets 0.7-1.5 cm x 0.3-0.5 cm, tips rounded and mucronate; inflorescence in axillary raceme 5-15 cm, about 12 flowers per raceme, corolla pink, often with insect gall; straight linear pod 4 cm x 0.3 cm

Indigofera diphylla 50309

records: Timbuktu, Goundam, Gao, Kanioumé (Boudet)

habitat: sand

notes: annual or perennial, sprawling; stems reddish (if exposed to sun); bifoliate leaf (rarely trifoliate), leaflets oval-elliptical, large leaflet 2-3 cm x 1-2 cm at end of petiole, and much smaller lateral leaflet less than half that size on branching-off petiolule; leaflets pubescent; flowers in short dense axillary spike 1-3 cm; flowers initially hidden by bracts; corolla crimson; sharply curved bunched pods (falciform) 1-1.2 cm x 0.2 cm, with beak

Indigofera disjuncta [see Microcharis disjuncta]

Indigofera elegans [see Indigofera nigricans]

Indigofera geminata 50310

records: Koro-Bandiagara, Yanfolila, Macina, Koulikoro (Boudet)

habitat: grassy savanna

notes: erect ramified herb 20-40 cm; leaf 1-2.5 cm with 2-3 pairs of opposite leaflets (or trifoliate on flowering stems), oblanceolate 0.7-1.2 cm x 0.2-0.3 cm with widest part closer to tip; small brick-red flowers at tip of filiform axillary peduncle, flowers by 2; paired linear cylindrical pods 0.9-1 cm long, with beak

taxonomy: can be confused with I. congolensis (Boudet)

Indigofera hirsuta var. hirsuta 50311 [Berhaut as I. hirsuta, Boudet as I. hirsuta var. hirsuta; see also I. astragalina]

records: Niono, Bamako (Boudet); Kubewel (JH)

habitat: sand

notes: herb 50-80 cm; leaf 5-7 cm with (2-)3 pairs of opposite leaflets; leaflets obovate 1.5-5 cm x 1-3 cm, tip rounded or emarginate; pair of stipels at base of each leaflet as well as larger stipule at base of entire leaf; flowers in upper part of spiciform axillary raceme 10-15 cm; open corolla as long as 1 cm, bright pink; slightly curved linear pods 1.5-2.5 cm x 0.3 cm

Indigofera hochstetteri subsp. hochstetteri [not in Berhaut] [get description]

records: Timbuktu, Gao (Boudet)

habitat: rocks (Boudet); grassy savanna, sand (Database)

notes (African Plants Database): spreading annual herb 10-60 cm tall, ridged stems branching from the base; (from photo of I. hochstetteri specimen at CIRAD): pods curved, segmented (cf. Aeschynomene), in a small bunch

reference: Kew Bulletin 13:414-419 (1959); Flora Tropical Africa 2: 101 (1871); sp. Mauritania to Tanzania

Indigofera leprieurii 50312 [syn I. macrocarpa, in early lit. I. leprieurii confused with I. simplicifolia]

records: Bandiagara, Macina, Sanga, Koulikoro (Boudet); Tupere (JH)

habitat: sands, granite

notes: annual 40-80 cm; simple alternate leaves; elliptical-lanceolate 6-10 cm x 0.7-1.5 cm, tip slightly rounded and mucronate; spiciform flower spike, shorter than leaves, pink corolla; thick , straight, partially flattened pods 3-4 cm x 0.4 cm with thickened sutures

Indigofera microcarpa

records: Segou, Gao (Boudet)

habitat: riverbanks, cultivated fields

notes: erect, decumbant, or occasionally sprawling perennial herb 30 cm to 1 m; leaf 2-4 cm with 2-5 pairs of opposite leaflets, which are highly variable, often 0.5-0.9 cm x 0.3-0.4 cm (but can be much smaller or larger), with many dark green points on underside; may be silvery due to dense hairs; flowers in dense spiciform raceme 3-9 cm, often shorter than leaf; corolla violet-mauve; short pods tightly bunched below flowers, facing down at angle (cf. I astragalina), silvery pubescent, 0.5-0.6 cm x 0.2 cm, with a beak

Indigofera nigricans [not the same as I. nigritana; syn I. elegans given in FWTA II]

records: Macina, Koulikoro (Boudet)

habitat: near rivers, grassy floodplain, wooded savanna on sand

notes: erect annual herb to 60 cm; [from photo of CIRAD specimen] 4-5 opposite leaflets per leaf, leaflets small, oblong, stems and leaves covered with white hairs

reference: Kew Bulletin 13:414-419 (1959)

Indigofera oblongifolia 50689

records: Niono, Dire-Bandiagara, Tin Tegrin, Kabara, Gao, Gosi (Boudet); in low flat zones (lightly inundatable) between Sambere and Konna, and near Kikara (JH)

habitat: inundatable clayey zones

notes: ligneous shrub to 1 m; leaf 2-5 cm with 3-5 alternate leaflets (including one at tip), leaflets oblong-elliptical 1-2.5 cm x 0.5-1 cm, whitish due to abundant hairs; many flowers all along axillary raceme (longer than leaf), pink corolla; many long thin pods, gently curved, facing down (but outer parts approaching right angle to stem) 1.5 cm x 0.15 mm

Indigofera omissa 50313

records: Macina, Sanga, Koulikoro (Boudet); Kubewel, Adia, Segue, Tanga (JH)

habitat: granite rocks (Boudet); rocky plateau (JH)

notes: subligneous shrub to 50 cm or more; leaf 3-4 cm with 2-3 pairs of opposite leaflets; leaflets obovate 1.5-2.5 cm x 0.8 x 1.2 cm (widest part closer to tip) with tips rounded or broadly acute; axillary raceme 3-4 cm with 15-20 reddish flowers spread out; straight linear pods in small clusters (illustration shows 6-7 pods per bunch), 1.5-2.2 cm x 0.15 cm, pointed tip, 6-7 seeds

Indigofera pilosa var. pilosa 50314

records: Tasséguéla, Gao, Niono, Macina, Bamako (Boudet); Hombori (JH)

habitat: infertile sandy soil, rocks

notes: weedy herb 20-30 cm; stems reddish; trifoliate with terminal leaflet 2.5-4 cm x 1-1.5 cm, lateral leaflets much smaller 1-1.5 cm x 0.7-0.9 cm (sometimes just one lateral leaflet); a few crimson flowers (fewer than 10) on axillary raceme 3-6 cm long; straight thin cylindrical pods 2-2.5 cm x 0.2 cm, pubescent, at various angles (including right angle) to stem

Indigofera prieureana

records: Koulikoro, Niono (Boudet)

habitat: sands

notes: herb 40-70 cm; leaf 5-7 cm with 4-12 pairs of leaflets, elliptical 1-2 cm x 0.3-0.6 cm; many flowers on raceme usually a little shorter than leaf, sessile pale mauve flowers; long straight semi-quadrangular subligneous pod 3-5 cm x 0.4-0.5 cm, with point, 7-8 seeds

Indigofera pulchra

records: San, Segou, Sikasso (Boudet)

habitat: sand, laterite, old fields

notes: well-branched herb or semiligneous plant to 1.5 m; leaf 1-4 cm with 3-7 pairs of small obovate leaflets on main stems 0.6-1.2 cm x 0.2-0.5 cm (can be trifoliate or simple on flowering stems); small brick-red flowers in small groups at end of branches or of short axillary racemes; small cylindrical pod 0.3-0.4 cm x 0.2 cm

Indigofera secundiflora var. secundiflora

records: Tasséguéla, Gosi, Segou, Koulikoro (Boudet)

habitat: sand

notes: annual herb 20-50 cm; leaf 4-5 cm with 5-6 pairs of elliptical leaflets 0.8-1.5 cm x 0.4-0.6 cm, both sides covered with hairs; flowers fairly dense along most of axillary raceme, which is shorter than a leaf, standard greenish, wings pink; densely bunched cylindrical pods 0.5-0.8 cm x 0.2 cm covered with red-brown hairs, all pointing in same direction

Indigofera senegalensis 50315

records: Timkissa, Gao, Macina, Bandiagara-Mopti (Boudet)

habitat: moist sand

notes: herb, erect or sometimes sprawling, 25-40 cm; leaf 2-4 cm with 2-3 pairs of leaflets (occasionally trifoliate); long leaflets oblong-elliptical 2-3.5 cm x 0.5-0.8 cm (terminal leaflet up to 4 cm long), covered by thin hairs; brick-red flowers by 15-20 on an axillary raceme 2-5 cm; flat pods 1.2-1.3 cm x 0.3 cm; usually 4 seeds

Indigofera sessiliflora 50316

records: Timbuktu (Boudet); Timbuktu (JH)

habitat: sand

notes: annual herb 15-30 cm; stems with stiff hairs, rough to the touch; leaf 2-3 cm with 2-3 (rarely 4) pairs of leaflets, opposite or subopposite; short elliptical leaflets 0.5-0.9 cm x 0.3-0.5 cm, rounded, s.t. with dense hairs; nearly sessile brick red flowers on very short axillary raceme, buds hidden by leafy bracts; straight linear pods 1-1.2 cm x 0.15 cm, pubescent.

Indigofera simplicifolia 50317

records: Yanfolila, Macina, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: inundated or other moist areas

notes: herb 50-75 cm; simple alternate leaves, lanceolate or elliptical-lanceolate 3-6 cm x 0.3-0.7 cm, only median nerve clearly visible; flowers on numerous very short axillary racemes less than 1 cm long, all along stem (with each leaf); corolla pink; long linear pods 2-2.5 cm x 0.15 cm, nearly quadrangular, with beak, in groups of 2-3

Indigofera spicata

records: Segou, Lake Debo (Boudet)

habitat: wet sand

notes: herb with stems half-erect, decumbent, or sprawling; leaf 3-5 cm with total of 10-11 alternate to subopposite leaflets, elliptical 1-2 cm x 0.4-0.9 cm, rounded on both ends; flowers in dense axillary raceme 3-7 cm, pink corolla; straight linear pods 2 cm x 0.15, sharp point, in dense clusters pointing down; 6-7 seeds

Indigofera stenophylla var. stenophylla 50318 [superficially resembles Tephrosia bracteolata, but smaller]

records: Macina, near Bandiagara, Bamako (Boudet); Tupere, Pergue, Walo (JH)

habitat: rocky debris

notes: herb 40-80 cm; stems somewhat rough to touch, hairy; leaf 7-10 cm with 2-4 pairs of opposite leaflets, oblong-linear 5-6 cm x 0.3-0.5 cm, terminal leaflet longer (up to 8 cm); small flowers spaced out on entire length of axillary raceme 3-7 cm, corolla pink or mauve; linear pods facing up 3-4 cm x 0.3 cm with 10-12 grains, beak

Indigofera strobilifera subsp. strobilifera [not in Berhaut] [need description]

records: Niono, Dioura (Boudet)

habitat: sandy fallow fields (weed)

notes: (from Miura photo) erect herb, soft silky hairs; about 4 pairs of leaflets, ovate (almost cordate); but see photo of CIRAD specimen

reference: Gillett, Kew Bull Addn ser 1:1-166 (1958, “Indigofera in Tropical Africa”); Flora Tropical Africa 2:75 (1871)

Indigofera suaveolens [not in Berhaut] [need description]

records: Sahara (Boudet)

habitat: clayey zones near mountains

reference: Gillett, Kew Bull Addn ser 1:1-166 (1958, “Indigofera in Tropical Africa”); sp. occurs Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia

Indigofera tinctoria var. tinctoria 50319

records: Macina, San, Bamako (Boudet); Hombori, Anda, Sevare, Djenne, Seguey (JH)

notes: shrubby plant 1-1.5 m; leaf 5-6 cm with 4-6 pairs of opposite leaflets, obovate-elliptical 1-2.5 cm x 0.7-1.2 cm, tip rounded or lightly emarginate; flowes in axilllary raceme 3-10 cm, petals red, standard greenish; red-brown linear pods, lightly curved, 2.5-3 cm x 0.2-0.25 cm

ethnobotany: traditional source of indigo (dark blue dye), still collected by some Dogon for this purpose

Microcharis disjuncta [syn Indigofera disjuncta (thus Boudet), not in Berhaut] [need description]

records: Adrar (Boudet)

habitat: sand, rocky debris

notes: erect dwarf herb, densely branched, 5-15 cm tall, leaves usually simple
tribe Loteae

Lotus arabicus

records: Dogo (Boudet)

notes: herb 20-40 cm, erect of scrambling, in dense stands; imparipennate leaf 10-15 with 2 pairs of lateral “leaflets,” one pair of which (actually stipules) emerges at the very base of the petiole (so leaf is technically trifoliate), bottom and sides pubescent; leaflets 1-2.5 cm x 0.8-1.5 cm; mauve or blue flowers with violet lines, by 2-3 at tip of axillary peduncle; linear cylindrical pods 1.5-3 cm x 0.2-0.3 cm, often paired or by three, also at tip of peduncle

tribe Millettieae

Lonchocarpus laxiflorus 50320

records: Bamako (Boudet); Walo, Dianwely, Bounou, Adia, Bendiely (JH)

notes: tree 5-6 m; alternate imparipennate leaf 15-20 cm with 2-3 pairs of oval-elliptical leaflets 8-10 cm x 3-5 cm; purple-mauve flowers in ramifying panicles; flat glabrous tan-colored pods hanging down 5-10 cm x 1.5-1.8 cm, usually 1 grain (s.t. 2-3).


Mundulea sericea 50321 (corkbush) [not in Berhaut]

records: has spread by cultivation (fish poison) (Boudet, who also says this of Tephrosia densiflora); Kikara, Walo, abundant in flat plateau between Emdie and Nombo (JH)

habitat: various open and rocky habitats

notes: (African Database) shrub to tree; stem straight with bush crown; bark corky, smooth, or fissured, often yellowish; leaf, flower, pod are velvety silky; (from photo of specimen) leaf imparipennate with 4-8 pairs of leaflets, ovate (wider near base) tapering to an acuminate point; flattened long pods with about 7 seeds (segments visible but not indented), light tan when mature, with pointed beak

description: F R Irvine, Woody Plants of Ghana (1961), 398-400.


Ptycholobium plicatum 50324 (syn Tephrosia plicata) [not in Berhaut]

records: Adrar (Boudet)

habitat: rocky ravines

notes: (from photo:) trifoliate with short petiole, leaflets narrowly obovate, tips rounded or emarginate; pods grouped by 2-3 more or less sessile on axils, tan-colored, lightly curling, thick, indented on one side and deeply grooved between segments, about 3-4 seeds

references: supplement (appendix) to Boudet p. 436; Kew Bull 35:462 (figure p. 463) (1980)


Requienia obcordata 50325 (in Berhaut as Tephrosia obcordata)

records: Timbuktu, Gao (Boudet); Timbuktu (JH)

habitat: deep sandy soil

notes: annual or subligneous perennial, 25-80 cm; simple alternate leaves, obovate or obcordate (reverse heart shape) 1.5-3 cm x 1-2 cm, tip emarginate; tiny axillary flowers violet-red, barely emerging from calyx; short ovoid pods 0.7 cm x 0.4 cm ending in beak
Tephrosia [similar in habit to Indigofera]


Barbistyla, ...

key by leaf

simple, alternate


(cf. Requienia obcordata)


(cf. Ptycholobium)


3-4 pedicellata

3-4 uniflora

4-6 lathyroides

4-7 platycarpa

(4-7 cf. Mundulea sericea)

4-7 mossiensis

4-9 linearis

6-12 purpurea

5-15 bracteolata
simple alternate leaf (cf. also Requienia obcordata)

Tephrosia berhautiana 50334 (syn T. simplicifolia)

records: Yanfolila (Boudet)

notes: erect annual herb 20-50 cm (or sometimes larger, with woody base); simple alternate leaves, linear-lanceolate 4-6 cm x 0.3-0.6 cm, acute tip, 10-15 faint lateral nerves sharply ascendant, central nerve conspicuous; terminal or axillary raceme with 1-2 small flowers near top, corolla pale mauve; about 2 flat pods on pedicel, dark brown when mature, often facing up, 1.5 cm x 0.2 cm; 2-5 oblong grains with blackish spots

trifoliate (see Ptycholobium)
imparipennate (with number of leaflets)

3-4 pedicellata

3-4 uniflora

4-6 lathyroides

4-7 platycarpa

(4-7 cf. Mundulea sericea)

4-7 mossiensis

4-9 linearis

6-12 purpurea

5-15 bracteolata

Tephrosia bracteolata var. bracteolata 50335 [superficially resembles Indigofera stenophylla but larger]

records: Sanga, Macina, Niono (Boudet); Hombori, Tupere, Anda, Beni, Pergue, Bendiely (JH)

habitat: sand, gravel

notes: annual or shrub 50 cm to 1 m; short hairs on stems; long leaf 8-30 cm with 5-15 pairs of opposite leaflets, linear-elliptical 5-8 cm x 0.7-0.9 cm, tip slightly rounded and mucronate, many faint lateral nerves sharply ascendant, top glabrous but underside covered with silky hairs; flowers spread out along upper part of terminal raceme 15-30 cm, corolla white or pink, standard often white inside and pink on outside; linear facing out or upward, pods 6-10 cm x 0.4-0.5 cm, finely pubescent, c. 15 grey-yellow cylindrical seeds

Tephrosia flexuosa (see T. platycarpa)

Tephrosia lathyroides 50337

records: Koulikoro (Boudet); Hombori (JH)

notes: herb or semi-perennial with some branches trailing on ground; semi-erect hairs on stems and petioles; leaf 5-8 cm with 4-6 pairs of elliptical leaflets sometimes increasing in size from base to tip (Montp specimen has 7 pairs), pubescence on both sides but esp on underside (silvery appearance); flowers spread out on raceme 10-12 cm, flowers often by pairs, corolla mauve 1 cm, calyx with sharply pointed teeth; light brown linear pods, slightly curved at end, 4-5 cm x 0.4 cm, pubescent valves, 6-8 grains

Tephrosia leptostachya (see T. purpurea)

Tephrosia linearis var. linearis 50338

records: Macina, Gao, Segou (Boudet); Gao, Ayorou (Rep. of Niger), Anda (JH)

habitat: wet areas

notes: annual herb 30-80 cm; short hairs on stem and petiole; leaf 3-5 cm with 4-9 pairs of linear leaflets 1.5-4 cm x 0.2-0.4 cm increasing slightly in size from base to top, sides of leaflets generally straight and parallel, tips slightly rounded, top glabrous, bottom silvery with white hairs; axillary flowers isolated or sometimes by pairs (in which case the 2nd flowers after 1st is in fruit), corolla salmon pink; straight linear light brown pod, slightly curved at tip, 4-5 cm x 0.3-0.4 cm, with sharp-pointed beak, 10-12 grains yellowish with reddish designs

Tephrosia mossiensis 50339

records: Sanga, Macina, Koulikoro (Boudet); Hombori, Walo, Anda (JH)

habitat: rocks

notes: herb or with woody base, bushy, 50 cm - 1 m or more; leaf 5-7 cm with 4-7 pairs of obovate or elliptical leaflets 1.5-3 cm x 1-1.8 cm, smaller toward base, tip rounded or slightly emarginate (terminal leaflet strongly emarginate), 6-7 lateral nerves, leaflets pubescent especially on bottom; spiciform terminal raceme 1-1.5 cm, a few flowers among leaves below raceme, corolla red-ochre; brown linear pod curved near tip 5-7 cm x 0.7 cm, facing out, thick sutures, 5-6 grains

Tephrosia obcordata (see Requienia obcordata)

Tephrosia pedicellata

records: Sikasso, Bourem to Gao (Boudet)

habitat: sandy-clayey or gravelly soil

notes: herb with base more or less perennial; stems hairy (hairs 1 mm); leaf 3-5 cm with 3-4 pairs of elliptical leaflets 2.5-3.5 cm x 0.7-1 cm, tip somewhat rounded and mucronate; blue-mauve flowers isolated or by 2-3 at axil; flat straight linear pods 2.5-3 cm x 0.4-0.5 cm, ending in beak, covered with hairs; 6-9 grains

Tephrosia platycarpa 50340 (now includes the former T. flexuosa, distinct in Berhaut)

records: Bougouni, San (Boudet); Menaka, Anda (JH)

habitat: gravelly soil

notes: annual herb 25-50 cm, long leaf 8-15 cm with 4-7 pairs of oblong-elliptical leaflets, gradually increasing in size from base to top, 4-5 cm x 0.5-0.9 cm, tip often truncated (cut flat) or emarginate [but Boudet on T. flexuosa has rounded tips] [cf. T. purpurea], mucronate, many nerves, sharply ascendant, hairs on both sides; petiole 1 3 cm before first leaflets; terminal raceme 5-10 cm, isolated or 2-3 at tip, one or two others lower down; corolla mauve; flat strait pods facing up 3-4 cm x 0.6-0.7 cm, thick sutures, beak roughly in middle

Tephrosia purpurea subsp. leptostachya 50341 (syn T. leptostachya)

records: Gao, Beni (JH)

var. leptostachya

records: Gao (Boudet)

var. pubescens

records: Timbuktu, Ikdal, Mopti to Koulikoro (Boudet)

notes (Boudet T. purpurea): semi-perennial herb often sprawling on sand then ascendant; leaf 6-10 cm with 6-12 pairs of leaflets, the middle leaflets longest, leaflets oblanceolate-elliptical 1.2-2 cm x 0.4-0.7 cm, summit rounded or truncate [cf. T. platycarpa]; terminal raceme 1.5-3.5 cm, flowers isolated or by 2-3, corolla crimson 1 cm, standard wide 1.1 cm; flat pod slightly curved near tip 4-5 cm x 0.4 cm, glabrous, 7-9 seeds (yellowish with darker markings)

Tephrosia simplicifolia (see T. berhautiana)

Tephrosia uniflora subsp. uniflora 50342 (sp. rather variable)

records: Macina, Tilemsi, Gao, Nioro (Boudet); Hombori, Kubewel, Adia (JH)

habitat: dunes

notes: annual, erect or sprawling, 30-40 cm; leaf 3-4 cm usually with 3-4 pairs of leaflets, obovate-elliptical 1.5-4 cm x 0.6-1 cm, tip rounded or emarginate, mucronate, many ascending lateral nerves, top glabrous, bottom with silky white hairs; more or less sessile axillary flowers, isolated or by 2-3 (rarely 4-5 but not flowering at same time), corolla pale pink 1 cm; flat brown linear pods curving near tip, facing out or down, 5 cm x 0.4 cm, very pubescent, about 10-11 seeds
tribe Phaseoleae [trifoliate leaves]
Canavalia [trifoliate, broad-leaved, twining or decumdant]

Canavalia spp. (both spp. below) 50698

Canavalia ensiformis 50290 (jack-bean)

records: Mopti (planted)

notes: twining or decumbant; trifoliate, leaflets broadly oval 6-15 cm x 4-8 cm, 5-7 pairs of lateral nerves, glabrous; petiole 5-15 cm, no stipules; long pod to 30 cm x 3-3.5 cm; 10-15 white or red seeds

Canavalia virosa 50291 [syn C. africana, C. cathartica]

notes: twining; trifoliate, leaflets oval 7-10 cm x 4-7 cm petiole 6-8 cm, 2 short cuneiform stipules 2 mm; pod 12-18 cm x 1.5-3 cm; seeds green-yellow with dark olive green marblings
Erythrina [shrubs/trees]

Erythrina senegalensis 50303

records: Oulia, Ouarsada, Yanfolila (Boudet); Walo, Diangassagou (JH)

notes: shrub or small tree to 10-15 m; scattered curved thorns on stems and branches; trifoliate leaf with oval leaflets 5-10 cm x 3-5 cm, somewhat rounded tip, petiole 3-6 cm; terminal spiciform inflorescence 15-25 cm often at end of defoliated stem, corolla bright red; pod moniliform (like string of beads) 8-15 cm x 1 cm, twisting as it opens on one side to reveal bright red seeds

Erythrina sigmoidea 50304

records: Niena (Boudet); Kikara (JH)

notes: shrub 3-6 m; curved thorns; trifoliate leaf 5-20 cm with long petiole 5-15 cm before first lateral leaflets, leaflets oval or suborbicular (nearly circular), s.t. wider than long; 5-12 cm x 4-15 cm; flowers by 2-4 in axillary or terminal raceme 10-15 cm, corolla emerges through lateral slit in calyx (which ends in 5 lobes), standard falciform; pod moniliform 8-15 cm x 1.5-2 cm, 5-10 roundish red seeds

Lablab purpureus subsp. uncinatus (hyacinth bean) (syn Dolichos lablab)

records: one vague record (Boudet)

notes: twining, to 2-3 m; alternate trifoliate leaf, leaflets broadly oval 4-8 cm x 3 cm, median leaflet about as wide as long, petiole 3-15 cm; stipules, also stipels at base of lateral leaflets and just under median leaflet; white or mauve flowers isolated or by pairs separated by 1-3 cm on stem; flat pods, fairly straight, 5-8 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, 3-4 white or black seeds

Rhynchosia [twiners, trifoliate, axillary stipules]

Rhynchosia minima 50326

var. memnonia 50327

records: Nara, Gao (Boudet); Hombori, Douentza, Bounou (JH)

habitat: poor soils, in shade

notes: twiner, leaflets shaped like rounded diamond, 2-3 cm x 2-3 cm; petiole 2.5-4 cm; flowers yellow; flat pods 1.5-2 cm x 0.5-0.6 cm with 2 grains

var. minima 50328

records: Koulikoro, Gao (Boudet)

habitat: humid areas on sandy or clayey soil

notes: twiner, leaflets oval-triangular 2-4 cm x 1.5-3 cm; petiole 1-2 cm; yellow flower; flat pods 1.5-2 cm long with 2 grains

Rhynchosia pychnostachya 50329

records: Bla, Niana (Boudet); Bounou, Kikara (JH)

habitat: humid areas in forest

notes: robust herb; leaflets oval 5-10 cm x 4-7 cm, acuminate; petiole 2-6 cm; stipels just under median leaflet; flowers yellow in dense axillary raceme; long pod 1.5 cm x 0.5 cm, not surpassing the calyx, with 2 dark blue seeds that remain exposed when pod opens

Vigna [twining, trifoliate, pair of stipules on each petiolule; includes cultivated cow-pea and cultivated groundnut]


Vigna subterranea 50346 [syn Voandzeia subterranea] (=cultivated groundnut, Fr pois de terre)

records: cultivated widely in Dogon country

notes: all leaves rise up from prostrate stems, long petioles 8-15 cm, leaflets oblong or elliptical-lanceolate 4-7 cm x 1.5-3 cm; flowers and pods on ground; corolla yellow; ovoid pod 1.2-1.5 cm, with a single seed (white, red, or black, or spotted)

ethnobotany: nut is globular, much harder than peanut

native terms: often called by same term as peanut (Arachis hypogaea), distinguished by modifiers

Vigna unguiculata 50347 (=cultivated cow-pea, Fr haricot or, from Bambara, niébé) [includes (cultivated) V. unguiculata and (wild) V. sinensis in Berhaut]

notes: leaves often hastate (sharp bulge very close to base), leaflets 3-10 x 2-3 near base; corolla bluish mauve; cylindrical pod 7-10 cm with c. 15 seeds

ethnobotany: an important crop throughout much of Mali; several varieties (seeds white, red-brown, black, or “black-eyed” white and black)

cultivars: cow-peas grown locally are a) white, b) white and black (black-eyed peas), c) red-brown, and d) black


[some specimens of "wild cow-pea" are V. unguiculata, see above]

Vigna ambacensis (see V. heterophylla)

Vigna filicaulis

records: Macina, Katiboubou (Boudet)

habitat: periodically inundated areas, twines around grasses & herbs

notes: stem wire-like; leaflets oblong-lanceolate or oblong-linear 2-4 cm x 0.3-0.7 cm, usually glabrous; corolla yellow; semicylindrical pods 2-2.7 cm long with 4-5 seeds

Vigna heterophylla 50343 (syn V. ambacensis)

records: Niono, Mopti-Koulikoro, Bandiagara-Mopti (Berhaut)

habitat: depressions, weed in fields

notes: leaflets oval-elliptical or s.t. lanceolate 4-10 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm; corolla yellow; pods curved toward end, 4-5 cm long, 7-8 reddish-brown seeds

Vigna racemosa 50344

records: Sanga, Bamako (Boudet); Bounou (JH)

habitat: forest galleries, rocky outcrops, in shade, etc.

notes: perennial; stems and petioles very hairy, leaves also hairy (noticeable on edges); leaflets oval 4-6 cm x 2-4 cm, bulging a little closer to base than to tip, petiole 1.5-5 cm; corolla cobalt blue, base of standard streaked with violet; pods 3-4 cm long, slightly curved, 6-8 seeds

Vigna sinensis (see V. unguiculata)

Vigna vexillata

records: Macina, Bamako

habitat: grassland, meadows, old fields

notes: perennial climbing or trailing with tuberous, spindle-shaped woody rootstock, may be densely covered by brown hairs; leaflets oval 4-10 cm x 3-5 cm (also a variant with long thin leaves), bulging in center or a little toward base, long petiole 3-8 cm; corolla pink; flattened pod 7-9 cm, 12-15 seeds

Voandzea subterranea (see Vigna subterranea)
tribe Psoraleae

Psoralea plicata

records: Timbuktu, Niafunke, In Tillit (Boudet)

habitat: clayey soil, temporarily inundated

notes: semi-woody shrubby plant 50 cm to 1 m; alternate trifoliate leaves, leaflets with undulating margins, terminal leaflet (2-3.5 cm x 1-1.2 cm) twice as long as laterals (1-1.5 cm x 0.7-1 cm), petiole 0.7-3 cm; stem has numerous wart-like or semi-thorny glands; flowers spread on raceme 5-10 cm long, blue and violet; small fruit
tribe Robinieae
Sesbania [tall erect herbs in moist areas (cf. Aeschynomene), paripennate leaves, leaflets with rounded tip, yellow flowers, long pods]

note: we currently refer the common herbaceous Sesbania in the Dogon and montane Songhay area to S. pachycarpa

ref: Lewis G.P., 1988. Sesbania Adans. in the Flora Zambesiaca region. Kirkia 13: 11–51.

subgenera: Sesbania (most African spp.), Agati (S. grandiflora), Daubentonia, Glottidium

key by no. of leaflets and leaf length [get info: pachycarpa, rostrata, hepperi]

10-12 (8-10 cm) leptocarpa

30-40 (15-25 cm) dalzielii

12-22 (10-15 cm) sericea

15-20 (8-12 cm) sesban

key by no. of seeds (and pod length) [get info: pachycarpa, hepperi]

10-15 (12-15 cm) straight: dalzielii

15-25 (10-15 cm) straight: leptocarpa

c. 21 (15 cm) fairly straight: sesban

c. 25 (15-17 cm) curved: sericea (illustr. shows 25)

30-45 (15-20 cm) curved with very long pointed beak: rostrata
Sesbania dalzielii 50705 (similar to S. leptocarpa but more leaflets, and undersides pubescent)

records: Segou, Macina, Labbezanga (Boudet)

habitat: marshes, riverbanks, pools

notes: herb 50 cm to 1.5 m; leaf 15-25 cm with 30-40 pairs of small leaflets each 1.2-1.5 cm x 0.3 cm, underside of leaflets pubescent; 10-15 flowers per raceme, corolla yellow, standard of uniform color (not spotted); linear pod 12-15 cm, 10-15 seeds

Sesbania hepperi (syn in part S. arabica) [not in Berhaut] [get description] [not at CIRAD]

records: Macina (Boudet)

habitat: temporarily flooded area

notes: slightly woody at base, tall (2 m), very slender

reference: described (under misapplied name S. arabica) in FWTA2 vol. 1.2 p.532 (1958); Thulin in Opera Botanica 68:1-223 (Ethiopia)

Sesbania leptocarpa (syn in part S. arabica)

records: San, Tin Ahara (Boudet)

habitat: seasonally inundatable areas (in colonies), irrigated farmland

notes: herb 30 cm to 2 m, very thin stems; stems finely grooved, sometimes aculeate (prickly); leaf 8-10 cm with 10-12 pairs of leaflets, increasing noticeably in size from both directions toward middle; 2-5 flowers per raceme, corolla yellow, standard with dark violet spots; linear pods pointing up, 10-15 cm, slightly compressed at joints between seeds, 15-25 seeds

reference: Thulin in Opera Botanica 68:1-223 (Ethiopia)

Sesbania pachycarpa subsp. pachycarpa 50330 (see comments on S. rostrata) [get description]

records: Macina, Segou, Sanga (Boudet); [if correctly identified] Dalla, Beni, Douentza, Walo (JH)

habitat: depressions, riverbanks, sorghum and peanut fields

notes: [African Plants Database] erect semi-woody annual or biennial 1-2.5 m, glabrous except for scattered hairs on very young leaves, stems s.t. sparsely aculeate (prickly)

taxonomy: Berhaut’s S. pachycarpa now referred to S. rostrata

reference: Adventices; Thulin in Opera Botanica 68:1-223 (Ethiopia); Du Puy et al The Leguminosae of Madagascar

Sesbania rostrata 50331 (in FWTA2 as S. pachycarpa) [get description]

records: Kabara, Gao, Gourma Rharous; Ansongo and Bamba (on Niger R.) (JH)

habitat: marshes, pond edges, flood-plains, can grow in up to 1 m deep water


[Berhaut on “S. rostrata”] herb 1-1.5 m; leaf 10-15 cm or more, 15-20 pairs of leaflets 1-3.5 cm x 0.5-0.8 cm, glabrous; young stems pubescent, then glabrous, then with lines of warty nodules; up to 10-12 flowers in raceme 4-6 cm, corolla yellowish, standard finely dotted with violet on back; linear pod 15-20 cm, often curved, tip in long acuminate beak, slight furrows in pod between seeds, 30-45 seeds

[Berhaut on “S. pachycarpa”] herb 50 cm - 1.5 m, plant glabrous; leaf 15-25 cm with 20-60 pairs of leaflets; 2-5 flowers in raceme 3-6 cm, corolla yellow, standard with violet dots on back; straight erect pods 15-25 cm, 30-40 seeds

[African plants database] erect softly woody annual or biennial 1-3 m, not aculeate (prickly), stems pithy to 1.5 cm thick, at first sparsely pilose then glabrescent with vertical rows of pustules above the leaf-axils that produce warty outgrowths on older stems

[World Agroforestry Centre website consulted 2007 for S. rostrata including S. pachycarpa] erect robust softly woody annual or short-lived perennial 1-3 m tall; forms stem nodules (cf. S. sesban var. punctata); stem pithy, sparsely pilose, with vertical rows of pustules evident above leaf axils and producing warty outgrowths on older stems; submerged portions covered with matted fibrous roots; leaves 7-25 cm long, rachis up to 19 cm, 12-24 pairs of leaflets, apex of leaflets rounded to obtuse to slightly emarginate; pod falcate in outline, 15-22 cm x 0.35-0.5 cm, up to 50-seeded; plant tolerates flooding to 1 m.

taxonomy: Berhaut’s S. pachycarpa is part of S. rostrata; Kew Bulletin 17:122 (fig 3.8 p. 110, 1963); Du Puy et al The Leguminosae of Madagascar


Sesbania sericea (syn S. pubescens)

records: Timbuktu, Kabara (Boudet)

notes: herb 60 cm x 1 m; leaf 10-15 cm with 12-22 pairs of leaflets each 1-3 cm x 0.5-0.8 cm, hairy underside; raceme 3-5 cm with 3-5 flowers, small yellow flowers golden yellow, standard greenish on back with weak brown spots; curved pods 15-17 cm with sharp pointed tip, each seed forms a bulge on the pod valves

references: illustration in Thuan et at (1987) Flore du Cambodge vol 23 P.

Sesbania sesban 50332 (foliage resembles Albizia chevalieri, whose leaflets are pointed)

records: Hombori area, Dianwely, Tupere, Tanga (JH)

notes: tree or woody shrub to 5-6 m; leaf 8-12 cm with 15-20 pairs of oblong leaflets 1.5-2 cm x 0.3-0.5 cm; 3-7 flowers per raceme, corolla yellow, standard with dark violet spots on outside; hanging linear pods 15 cm x 0.3-0.4 cm, ending in acute beak, illustration shows 21 seeds)

subsp. punctata

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

subsp. sesban

records: Koutiala, Sikasso (Boudet)

habitat: wet sandy soil

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