Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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[5 petals; calyx of sepals may be accompanied by bracteoles that form an epicalyx; leaves alternate, leaf margins generally lightly serrated]

[note: in wide sense (sensus latus), Malvaceae extends to include Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, and Tiliaceae]

Malvaceae site:
Abutilon [bushy plants; leaves deeply cordate at base, except A. ramosum]

Abutilon angulatum

records: Diafarabe esp. around ancient settlements (Boudet)

notes: 1-4 m; stems angular (except flower-bearing stems); leaf oval cordiform 6-15 cm x 5-10 cm, leaf with green upside and whitish underside, both sides with soft hairs; petiole 3-10 cm; flowers in small panicle on peduncle 2-3 cm, corolla 3-3.5 cm wide bright yellow-orange, no epicalyx; fruits 1 cm wide have 20+ flat rounded carpels each with 1 seed

Abutilon fruticosum 50403

records: Sahara, Bore, Gourda Rharous, Hombori-Gossi (Boudet)

habitat: sand, clayey soil, gravel

notes: subligneous, much-branching, 40 cm to 2 m; fine pubescence on stems and leaves; small leaf oval-elliptical 2-6 cm x 1.5-4.5 cm, petiole 1-5 cm; isolated axillary flowers on peduncle 1-2 cm, corolla 2 cm wide golden yellow; fruit a capitulum with 10 achenes with outer tips at right angles, 3 seeds in each achene

Abutilon grandifolium [introduced from Americas]

records: Macina, Gao, Bamba to Timbuktu (Boudet)

notes: to 1-2 m; leaf oval cordiform 4-10 cm x 3-8 cm; dense hairs on stems, petioles, and peduncles; isolated flowers yellow or yellow-orange, at tip or on long peduncle 4-5 cm; fruit a capitulum 1.5 cm wide with 8-10 hirsute carpels, tips of carpels at sharp angle facing outside

Abutilon pannosum 50404

records: Timbuktu, Sahara, Hombori-Gossi, Adrar, lake Fati, Sangha (Boudet); Labbezanga, Beni, Yanda, Sevare, Djenne (JH, sometimes planted in courtyards)

habitat: sandy-clayey, depressions between dunes

notes: perennial bush 1-2 m; broad cordiform leaf 6-10 cm long and slightly less wide; yellow flowers 3-4 cm wide, isolated on axillary peduncle 2-3 cm or at tip of an axillary branch, petals disymmetric; fruit a capitulum 1 cm wide with numerous rounded carpels pressed against each other, 2-3 seeds per carpel

ethnobotany: soft (pubescent) leaves relieve itching (Bendiely)

Abutilon ramosum 50405

records: Telora, Ngoumra (Boudet); Bounou, Tupere (JH)

habitat: sandy-clayey, humid

notes: 50 cm to 1.5 m; stems and petioles with long soft hairs; oval cordiform leaf, with soft hairs on both sides, s.t. with 3 points near top (cf. e.g. Hibiscus longisepalus), leaf not deeply cordate at base (leaf bottom is well wide of petiole), petiole 2-7 cm; a few flowers on axillary or terminal cyme, corolla pale orange-yellow 0.8-1 cm wide; capitulum with 6-8 carpels, with terminal point directed out


Cienfuegosia digitata 50406

records: Menaka, Hombori, Bandiagara, Gao, Macina, Nampala, Segou (Boudet); Boumbam, Tongo Tongo, Bendiely, Ficko (JH)

habitat: gravelly depressions, sandy-clayey soil, rocky debris (Boudet); also weed in fields (JH)

notes: herb, typically trailing; deeply lobed, trilobate or s.t. 5- or 7-lobed leaf, petiole 1-2 cm; isolated axillary flower on peduncle 3-5 cm, yellow corolla 4-5 cm wide; globular-conical capsule 1 cm round, surpassed by sepals

ethnobotany: toxic to cattle and goats (but not sheep)

Gossypium [cotton spp., many cultivars and hybrids]

Gossypium anomalum 50407

records: Tin Ahara, Gosi, Hombori, Menaka, Goundam (Boudet)

habitat: often among rocky debris

notes: leaves small; bracteoles linear-oblong or narrowly triangular, not more than 4 mm broad; capsules with hair on the sutures; seeds with a single coat of fine brown hairs (no “cotton-wool”)

ethnobotany: the traditional West African cultivated cotton sp., now giving way to the international G. hirsutum

Gossypium hirsutum 50408

records: cultivated widely in southern Mali (Boudet)

notes: leaves large; bracteoles suborbicular or broadly triangular, more than 1 cm broad; no hairs on sutures of capsules; seeds with long lint-hairs (“cotton-wool”)
Hibiscus [will be subject to much reorganization due to current DNA sequencing work]

Hibiscus images by section:

cultivated species

Hibiscus esculentus 50412 [cultivated okra, Fr gombo]

records: widely cultivated in Mali, including some gardens in Dogon country

ethnobotany: fruits (often dried and cut up) sold in markets for "gombo" sauce

Hibiscus sabdariffa 50417 [cultivated roselle, Fr. dah or oseille]

recods: cultivated throughout Dogon and montane Songhay country

notes: bushy plant

cultivars: three main cultivated varieties (plus some minor ones);

a) greenish-white, small fruits (best for macari spice) 50709

b) greenish-white, fruits with large calices (seeds OK for macari, calices for flavoring cream of millet) 50710

c) dark red fruits with large calices 50687 (seeds OK for macari, calices for beverages)

cultivation: may be interspersed here and there in millet or peanut fields, occasionally grown in separate fields; may also be planted as boundary markers on fields; harvested with sickles

ethnobotany: seeds of all varieties obtained by threshing, fermented to make macari spice; greenish calices of one variety (see above) used for flavoring cream of millet; red calices of another variety used in beverages
native species


flowers (sub)sessile (peduncle less than 0.5 cm):

H. cannabinus (including the former H. asper)

flowers isolated, on distinct peduncles (length of peduncle given below)

1-2 cm panduriformis

2-3 cm micranthus

2-5 cm sidiformis (=sidaeformis)

5-6 cm longisepalus

flowers grouped in racemes or at top of plant

H. sterculiifolius

ethnobotany: H. cannabinus (fibers for rope), H. micranthus (used by Jamsay for flavoing cream of millet), H. longisepalus (entire plant notorious for tiny rigid hairs that cause itching)

Hibiscus cannabinus 50409 (combines former H. asper and H. cannabinus)

varieties: red 50411 and "white" 50410 (i.e. greenish white) varieties may be distinguished by color modifiers

[data from original H. asper (narrow sense)]

records: Gao, Niono, Sanga, Bandiagara to Mopti (Boudet); along Niger River (Ansongo etc.), Hombori, Petaka, Dianwely, Beni (JH)

notes: tall erect herb 1-1.5 m; stems and petioles with warty thorns; variable leaf, dentate, often deeply lobed, central nerve often reddish with a warty gland 3-4 mm from base; coarse hairs on both sides, petiole often red; isolated axillary flowers above base of petiole, subsessile or shortly pedunculate; flowers cream or yellow-white with red or dark violet spots; calyx for some flowers with 5 acuminate teeth, for others nonacuminate; 5 sepals each with 3 vertical columns of red points (one on each edge, one in middle with a wart), under calyx proper a calicule (epicalyx) with 8-10 rigid bracteoles 0.6-0.8 cm sticking out; conical capsule covered with silky hairs

[data from former H. cannabinus]

records: Gao, Segou, Sanga (Boudet)

habitat: wet clayey soil

notes: 1-2 m; stems and petioles have a few semi-thorny short hairs; leaf oval 5-15 cm x 5-15 cm, occasionally with lateral points, petiole 5-20 cm; axillary flowers on very short peduncle; corolla pale yellow 4-6 cm wide, red spot at base, petals with rounded tips; calyx with 5 long acuminate lobes with 1 column of spots along with a warty gland; calicule with 7-8 bracteoles 1 cm long sticking out; conical capsule


ethnobotany: fibers are very good for making rope (plant is usually wild, but is occasionally cultivated for fiber)

Hibiscus longisepalus 50413

records: Macina, Hombori, Sanga, Bamako (Boudet); Hombori, Kikara, Pergue, Anda, Kubewel, Bendiely (JH)

habitat: rocky debris (JH)

notes: bush 1-2 m; leaf usually with 3-5 lobes (often pentagonal) 7-10 cm x 6-8 cm (or more), dense short velvety pubescence mixed with long rigid bristly hairs (cf. H. panduriformis); axillary flower on long peduncle 5-6 cm, arc-ing out from under the base of the leaf petiole; corolla lemon yellow, calyx 1.5-2 cm long with 5 sharp-pointed triangular teeth; also (during fruiting) some smaller cleistogamous flowers; epicalyx of filiform bracteoles 0.5 cm long; fruit an oval capsule not surpassing the length of the calyx

ethnobotany: notoriously prickly, tiny rigid hairs stick in skin

Hibiscus micranthus 50414 (see also H. pseudohirtus, with which it can be confused)

records: Gao, Douentza, Hombori (Boudet); Kikara, Dianwely, Anda, Beni, Tongo Tongo (JH)

habitat: rocky debris (Boudet)

notes: bush 60-80 cm ot higher; stems more or less woody; small oval leaf of variable size on the same plant, often 2.5-4 cm x 1.5-3 cm, tip more or less obtuse, short hairs on both sides (somewhat coarse feel on underside); axillary flowers on isolated or paired peduncles 2-3 cm long, corolla white, pink, or red 1 cm wide, calyx with lanceolate triangular sepals 0.5-0.7 cm long, epicalyx with linear bracteoles 0.2-0.4 cm; fruit is capsule with seeds covered by woolly white hairs

ethnobotany: flavoring for cream of millet (Jamsay)

native terms: may be combined into a taxon with H. longisepalus (similar bushy aspect and rocky habitat), the two being differentiated by modifiers

Hibiscus panduriformis 50415

records: Niono, Gossi, Macina, Segou (Boudet); Kikara (JH)

habitat: briefly inundatable sandy-clayey or clayey soil

notes: herb 1-2.5 m; stem with pubescence mixed with long rigid prickly hairs (cf. H. longisepalus); leaf broadly oval 4-8 cm x 4-8 cm, often with three weakly marked points in upper part, top of leaf riddled with dark green points, underside whitish with cotonny hairs, no gland on central nerve; isolated large sulphur yellow flower 5-7 cm wide on short axillary peduncle 1-1.2 cm; capsule

Hibiscus pseudohirtus 50416 [very close to and often confused with H. micranthus] [get description]

records: Macina, Bandiagara, Douentza (Boudet)

habitat: rocky debris (Boudet)

distribution: endemic to Mali

notes: leaves obscurely 3-lobed or not lobed

ref: Hutchinson 1958 Flora of W Trop Afr vol 1 Part 2, p. 344

Hibiscus sidiformis 50418 (also spelled sidaeformis)

records: Gourma, Haoussa-Foullane, Gao (Boudet)

habitat: disturbed or rocky sand, rocky debris

notes: herb 40-80 cm; leaf variable, often trilobate with very deep lobes but also (low on stem) oval or (at top) lanceolate, petiole 3-10 cm; small isolated flower on tip of axillary peduncle 2-5 cm, corolla yellow 1.2-1.5 cm wide; calyx with 5 long thin teeth 1 cm long, each with a green medial vein; capsule

Hibiscus sterculiifolius 50420

records: (far south) (Boudet); Hombori (JH)

habitat: riverbanks

notes: subligneous perennial 1-2 m resembling shrub; large pentagonal leaf to 30 cm x 30 cm, soft hairs on both sides, underside whitish green, petiole 2-15 cm; flowers bunched at summit or on short axillary racemes; corolla golden yellow with dark purple spot at base, calyx with triangular teeth 1 cm long, epicalyx of 9-10 very short bracteoles applied against calyx; conical capsule 1 cm high ending in short point not surpassing the top of sepals


Pavonia kotschyi [not in Berhaut]

records: Adrar, Gourma-Rharous, Timbuktu (Boudet)

habitat: sands

Pavonia procumbens [not in Berhaut]

records: In Tillitt, Ndaki (Boudet)

habitat: edge of pond, brousse tigrée

Pavonia senegalensis [not in Berhaut]

records: Timbuktu, Goundam (Boudet)

habitat: wet sandy or sandy-clayey soil

notes: [African Plants Database] bush to 5 m tall, much-branched from base; [from photo of Montp. specimen:] broad leaf with shallow lobes (cf. Ampelocissus africana); isolated flower on axillary peduncle

Pavonia triloba

records: Hombori-Gossi, Adrar, Zinguetti (Boudet)

habitat: sandy-clayey or pebbly soil, rocky debris

notes: herb 20-50 cm; simple hairs on stems and petioles; leaf trilobate 2.5-4 cm long with large upper part having more or less parallel sides, separating from side lobes about 1/3 way from base to top, underside of leaf pubescent, petiole 2-4 cm long; small isolated axillary flower on peduncle 3-5 cm, corolla white-pink; capsule
Sida (bushes or small shrubs, leaf margins mostly dentate, smallish flowers and fruit capsules)

Sida alba 50421

records: Gossi, Bougouni, Macina, Diré, Segou (Boudet); Hombori, Pergue, Bounou (JH)

habitat: inundatable salty or clayey soil, also in shade

notes: 30-80 cm; stems pubescent; small oval leaf 2-4 cm x 1-2.5 cm, widest part close to base, tip in obtuse angle, topside glabrous, underside pubescent, petiole 0-.5-2 cm; three thornlike spurs at base of petiole; white flowers on peduncles 1-2 cm coming off of branching stems, corolla 1-1.2 cm wide; capsule with 5 pointed carpels

Sida cordifolia 50422

records: Goundam, Gao, Sikasso (Boudet); Hombori, Bounou, Sangha, Sevare, Diangassagou, forms dense patches beside fields on road to Segue, much less common and not widely known in northern Dogon country (JH)

habitat: sand, rubble, waste ground (Boudet); beside fields (in the northern part of its range, in shade only) (JH)

notes: 1-1.5 m; large, broad oval leaf 3-7 cm x 2-6 cm, surfaces downy with soft hairs, long petiole 2-5 cm; flowers isolated or by 2-4 at axil, peduncles 0.5-1.5 cm; corolla pink or orange-yellow 1.5-2 cm wide, calyx with 5 triangular sections; capsule of 10-11 carpels with 2 teeth each at top, each tooth with numerous barbs along side

Sida ovata 50423

records: Timbuktu, Goundam, Hombori-Gossi, Ouan Foras, Bandiagara, Adrar (Boudet); Beni, Pergue, Dianwely, Tongo Tongo, Tyamadyina (JH)

habitat: sand

notes: perennial 30-75; short hairs on stems and petioles; small oval to oval-orbiculate leaf 2-5 cm x 1.5-4.5 cm, widest close to middle, petiole 0.3-1 cm; leaf margins undulating (not dentate); isolated axillary flower at tip of peduncle 1-2 cm, s.t. two peduncles together; corolla pale orange-yellow; somewhat flattened capsule with 5-7 rough carpels

ethnobotany: firm semiligneous stems are bundled together and used as a broom for tough outside jobs (e.g. sweeping pebbles), versus stems of grasses Eragrostis spp. and Schoenefeldia for light brooms

Sida rhombifolia 50424

records: Sanga, Sotuba, Segou (Boudet); Boro, Nando (JH)

habitat: inundatable or wet clayey soil, often in shade

notes: perennial herb or shrub 50 cm to 1-2 m; leaf diamond-shaped on lower stem, becoming more oval-lanceolate at the top, 3-7 cm x 2-4 cm, margins dentate on upper 2/3 of leaf, petiole 0.4-0.7 cm; flower at tip of axillary peduncle 1-2..5 cm, corolla pale yellow ochre 1.5-2 cm wide, calyx with 5 pointed teeth; capsule with 8-10 carpels with black surface


Sida urens var. urens 50425

records: Douentza, south of Mopti (Boudet); Beni (JH)

habitat: wet soil

notes: 50 cm to 1 m or more; soft hairs on stems and petioles; large cordiform oval leaf (narrowly cordate at base (cf. Wissadula) 5-10 cm x 3-7 cm near base, long acuminate tip; petiole 2-5 cm; flowers in glomerules of 2-10 at tip of axillary branches 2-5 cm, or in fasciculated glomerules at top of plant, corolla pale orange-yellow 1.3-1.5 cm wide, petals emarginate at top, reddish streaks at base of petals; capsule with 5 carpels

Urena lobata

records: Goundam, Niafounke, Bamako (Boudet)

habitat: inundatable or wet clayey soil

notes: bush or shrub 1-3 m; pubescent stems; variably shaped leaf, often with 3-5 points (like maple) but occasionally oval; margin finely denticulate, petiole 1-5 cm; axillary glomerules of 2-5 flowers on very short peduncles, corolla pink 2.5-3 cm wide, calyx with 5 sharp teeth; capsule with 5 rounded carpels covered by short pointed asperities

Wissadula amplissima var. rostrata (see W. rostrata)

Wissadula rostrata 50426 (syn W. amplissima var. rostrata)

records: Mopti-Djenné, Douentza, Macina, Koulikoro, Labbezanga (Boudet)

habitat: wet or inundated areas

notes: shrubby plant 50 cm to 1.5-2 m; stems finely pubescent; leaf oval cordiform (base distinctly cordate, cf. Sida urens) 8-15 cm x 4-6 cm, widest near base, petiole 3-8 cm; isolated or 2-3 flowers at tip of axillary racemes 2-3 cm or in terminal panicle; corolla orange-yellow 1-1.5 cm; capsule with 3-5 horn-like carpels pointing outwards

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