Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

Hydroleaceae (= Hydrophyllaceae)

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Hydroleaceae (= Hydrophyllaceae)


Hydrolea floribunda

records: Sotuba, Dogo (Boudet); none (JH, earlier Gao record probably incorrect)

habitat: swamps in savanna, rice fields

notes: herb 40-80 cm, stem simple or ramified, alternate leaves: sessile leaf linear-lanceolate 10-15 cm x 0.4-0.8 cm, pointed; stem glabrous, thick, spongy, filled with water; dark blue flowers in terminal clusters; capsule dividing in two, rust-colored seeds

Hydrophyllaceae (= Hydroleaceae)


(close to Caryophyllaceae)

Herniaria mauritanica (Saharan sp.)

records: none (Boudet); Algeria, Morocco

ref. Flore du Sahara 2nd ed p. 209

Labiatae (= Lamiaceae)

Lamiaceae (= Labiatae)

some reallocation from Verbenaceae is going on (Vitex, Tectona)

[most spp. have minty odor]

leaves opposite or verticillate, stems usually quadrangular, 2-4 stamens inserted in tube of corolla, corolla usually has 2 “lips” at top

subfamilies and tribes


Clerodendrum (in part)







Mentha (cultivated mint)

Ocimeae (with synthecous, dorsifixed anthers)


Englerastrum (see Plectranthus)







Viticoideae (s.t. combined with Caryopteroideae under Teucrioideae)



unassigned genera

Tectona (not in Mali)
subfamily Lamioideae, tribe Lamieae

Leonotis nepetifolia var. africana 50382 (also spelled “nepetaefolia”)

records: Macina, Legan (Boudet); Tupere, Songho (JH, less common in Dogon country than Leucas martinicensis but still fairly common)

habitat: near settlements, s.t. cultivated

notes: annual plant 1-2 m (i.e. much taller than Leucas), leaves opposite by 2, oval 4-10 cm x 3-8 cm (widest near base), fairly sharp dentations around edge, base of leaf 3-nerved with lateral nerves reaching above mid-height of leaf; soft hairs on both sides of leaf; petiole 3-10 cm (shorter near tip); stem with 4 obtuse angles and medial furrows; flowers in spherical glomerules 3-5 cm wide, with each pair of leaves in upper part of leaf; corolla cream-colored (var. africana) or red (in cultivated varieties); calyx teeth thornlike

Leucas deflexa 50692 [not in Berhaut]

records: Boudet (none)

Leucas martinicensis 50383

records: Dioura, Sotuba, Segou, San, Niono, Bamako (Boudet); Kikara, Beni, Bounou, Bendiely, Sangha, Segue (JH)

habitat: often a weed of cultivated fields

notes: aromatic herb 30-80 cm, leaves opposite by 2, oval or oval-lanceolate 4-8 cm x 2-4 cm, obtuse dentations; pubescent on both sides; petiole 0.5-1 cm; stem quadrangular with deep furrows, pubescent with hairs directed downward; flowers in globular axillary glomerules 1.5-3 cm wide at each pair of leaves near end of stem; calices filiform but not rigid; tiny white corollas
subfamily Nepetoideae, tribe Ocimeae

Endostemon tereticaulis 50378

records: Tin Tadeini, Bandiagara, Sanga, Sokolo (Boudet); Tupere, Kubewel, Bendiely (JH)

habitat: stony soil with sand

notes: herb 25-50 cm, ramified from base; leaves opposite by 2, sharp dentations all around edge, elliptical-lanceolate 4-6 cm x 0.8-1.2 cm, short or indistinct petiole; stem with 4 angles but well-rounded so nearly cylindrical; stems pubescent; axillary flowers by 2-4 at base of leaves, curved tubular calyx 1 cm x 2 mm, lower lip with 4 teeth, upper lip rounded, corolla does not emerge from tube

native names: often combined with with Ocimum americanum (=O. canum) among northern Dogon, both are used to help remove particles from the eyes (JH)


Englerastrum gracillimum (see Plectranthus gracillimum)

Hoslundia opposita 50379

records: Bandiagara-Douentza (Dé to Timba), Bamako, Tienfala forest (Boudet); Kikara (JH)

notes: shrub 1-5 m, leaves verticillate by 3-4, leaf oval-lanceolate 7-10 cm x 2-3 cm, elongated shallow dentations around most of leaf; well-defined petiole 2-15 mm; thin quadrangular stems; flowers in terminal panicle with several spiciform racemes with small white flowers in successive verticillations; very small pedicels for flower; globular orange fruits


Hyptis spicigera 50380

records: Niono, Koulikoro, Yanfolila (Boudet); Beni, Douentza (road to Fombori), Diangassagou, Bendiely (JH)

habitat: humid zones

notes: strongly aromatic annual herb 0.5-1 m, leaves opposite by 2 but with two side stems emerging at base of leaves, leaf lanceolate 7-10 cm x 1.2-3 cm, wedge-shaped at base; long petiole 1-4 cm; quadrangular stem with deep furrows; flowers in compact terminal spikes 2-10 cm long, formed mainly by calices and filiform bracts; corolla small, white, barely extending beyond teeth of calyx

ethnobotany: medicinal, dried spikes preserved by northern Dogon (JH)

Hyptis suaveolens 50381 (introduced)

records: Bamako, Klela (Boudet); Songho, Segue, Bendiely, Segue (JH)

notes: strongly aromatic (minty) annual herb 0.5-1.5 m, leaves opposite by 2 but with two side stems emerging at base of leaves; leaf pubescent, widely oval 4-15 cm x 3-9 cm but much smaller near end of stem; petiole 1-4 cm for larger leaves lower down on stem, much shorter on smaller leaves; two petioles with same base often of unequal length; stem with 4 rounded angles; inflorescence in small axillary cymes with peduncles 1-2 cm; blue corolla; calyx develops to 1 cm long when fruiting and its teeth become thorny [stems and fruits persist through the dry season/JH]

Ocimum americanum var. americanum 50386 (in Berhaut & Boudet as O. canum)

records: “communément cultivé” (Boudet for O. canum); seen mainly in villages, e.g. Songho, Walo (JH)

notes: very similar to O. basilicum but smaller; annual 15-40 cm, pubescent; leaves opposite; petiole 1.5-4 cm; stem quadrangular, with gutters on two opposed sides; flowers in spiciform terminal raceme 5-15 cm long, 0.8-1 cm wide, with successive glomerules with 6 verticillate flowers; mature calyx 4 mm diam; corolla small, hardly exceeding the calyx

Ocimum basilicum 50387 (planted)

records: Douentza-Hombori, Koulikoro (Boudet); Gao, Sevare (JH, less common in Dogon country than the smaller O. americanum)

notes: pleasantly aromatic semi-perennial bush, well-ramified, sub-glabrous, often 50 cm or more high, leaves opposite by 2, with side stems emerging at same point; leaf 4-6 cm x 1.2-3 cm, 5-6 teeth on each side, top of leaf glabrous, underside with small green glands; petiole 0.5-1.5 cm; stem clearly quadrangular, with gutters on all four sides; inflorescence in spiciform terminal raceme 10-20 cm long with small bunches of flowers usually verticillate by 6; white corolla 1 cm long (twice as long as calyx), upper lip better developed and with 4 teeth at top, lower lip rounded; 4 divergent stamens; mature calyx 6 mm diam with 2 lips, upper one broadly oval, lower one with 4 ciliated teeth

taxonomy: Boudet notes very similar to O. canum (now O. americanum), some determinations doubtful

Ocimum canum (see O. americanum var. americanum)

Orthosiphon pallidus [not in Berhaut]

records: Ansongo-Gounga, Melo (Boudet)

habitat: foot of cliff


Plectranthus chevalieri (in Berhaut & Boudet as Solenostemon chevalieri)

records: Koulikoro, Yanfolila (Boudet)

habitat: wooded savanna

notes: annual herb 20-40 cm, leaves opposite by 2, elliptical-lanceolate 6-8 cm x 1-2.5 cm, base attenuated, dentate, glabrous, glands on underside; quadrangular, puberulent stem; loosely spiciform terminal raceme 10-25 cm long, with successive bunches of small ramifying racemes 1-2.5 cm long verticillate by 3-6, the bunches separated by 1-2.5 cm of stem; the small racemes sinuous, with alternate pedicels 3-5 mm long with terminal flower; small bluish corolla; fruits not curved

Plectranthus gracillimum (in Berhaut & Boudet as Englerastrum gracillimum)

records: Koutiala, Yanfolila (Boudet)

habitat: laterites, rocks, and gravels in wooded savannas

notes: herb 30-80 cm, stems soft and reclining, leaves opposite by 2, leaf oblanceolate 5-7 cm x 0.7-1.5 cm widest in middle, attenuated at base with no distinct petiole, edge with a few rounded dentations in upper part only; flowers in terminal panicle; tiny bluish corolla; calyx with 5 teeth; pedicels 2-5 mm (flowering) to 1.5-2 cm (fruiting)

Solenostemon chevalieri (see Plectranthus chevalieri)

Solenostemon latifolius

records: Koulikoro, Bamako, Nogolasso (Boudet)

habitat: rocky areas (?) (Boudet)

notes: herb 40-80 cm, annual stems, leaves opposite, usually elliptical-lanceolate 5-15 cm x 1-2 cm (widest just under middle), base attenuated, elongated dentations; terminal spiciform panicle 10-20 cm long, 3-4 cm wide; flowers blue or pale mauve 1.5 cm long; flowers in successive verticillate glomerules of 6-10; calyx curled (cf. Endostemon); oblong tubercule 1-3 cm x 0.8-1 cm in earth

taxonomy: “plante extrêmement variable nécessitant des études approfondies” (Boudet), may involve multiple varieties or spp.

Solenostemon rotundifolius (introduced, from Ethiopia)

records: none (Boudet), but Berhaut lists Mali (Chevalier 2813)

notes: perennial herbacious stems 60 cm, erect or decumbent, leaves opposite by 2 but with side stems emerging at same point; leaf rounded oval or losange, 2-5 cm x 1.5-4 cm, 6-8 rounded dentations on each side; petiole 0.5-1.5 cm; stem quadrangular, often flexible; terminal spiciform raceme 10-25 cm long; flowers by 4-6, flowers in successive verticillate glomerules; blue flowers; calyx curled (cf. Endostemon); ovoid tubercules in earth 1.5-2 cm x 101.5 cm (black, white, or red)
subfamily Viticoideae (originally in Verbenaceae)

Gmelina arborea (local French "allumette")

records: introduced tree planted mainly in south, one seen at Bangolo Kana village (Togo Kan speaking zone)

ethnobotany: wood widely used for matches (hence the local French name)


Premna lucens

records: southern Mali (Boudet)
Vitex (composite leaves with 3-5 leaflets)

Vitex chrysocarpa 50388

records: Bamako, Mopti-Djenne (Boudet)

habitat: riverbanks

notes: small shrub or spreading tree; calyx, pedicels, & ovary densely pilose; calyx 4-5 mm long, peduncles 2-6 cm long, flowers violet in peduncles cymes; fruit yellowish-puberulous all over even when ripe

Vitex doniana 50389

records: south of Labezanga, Diafarabe, Sanga, Bougouni, Yanfolila (Boudet); Tabi mountain, Kikara, Walo, Anda, Diangassagou (JH)

habitat: wooded savanna, lateritic debris, terraces

notes: tree 10-20 m high; leaves 5-foliate, coriaceous; calyx and pedicels minutely puberulous; ripe fruits black

ethnobotany: fruits edible (black pulp around pits)

Vitex madiensis subsp. madiensis 50390 (syn V. simplicifolia)

records: Koulikoro, Yanfolila, Kati (V. madiensis); Bandiagara, Sansanding (V. simplicifolia) (Boudet); Kikara, Anda, Diangassagou (JH)

habitat: wooded savanna on gravel, riverbanks

notes: shrub or small tree(original V. simplicifolia) some leaves in floral region undivided

Vitex simplicifolia (see V. madiensis subsp. madiensis)
unassigned genera
Tectona (formerly in Verbenaceae)

Tectona grandis (teak)

records: none (Boudet)

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