Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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Moringa oleifera 50449 [planted]

records: Diré, Timbuktu, San (Boudet); Songho, Ouami east of Hombori (JH)

notes: shrub/tree; long thin fruit

ethnobotany: leaves eaten (sauce)


Musa spp. (bananas) 50450


Eucalyptus spp. 50451 (several, planted)


Psidium guajava 50452 [guava]

records: orchards in Dogon country (JH)

ethnobotany: fruits widely sold around October-November; one variety is reddish inside, the other is white inside


Syzygium aromaticum 50453 (clove)

records: none (JH)

ethnobotany: dried flower buds imported and sold in markets as a spice

Syzygium guineense 50704 (water pear), variants guineense and macrocarpum

records: Macina, Sofara, south (Boudet); var, macrocarpum is found in a remote part called Iril of the mountain summit (near Kikara)

habitat: forest galleries, occasional in floodplains (< lit.); inselberg summit (JH)

notes: tree 10-15 m; elliptical-lanceolate leaf 12-15 cm x 2.5-3.5 cm; flowers in terminal panicles; purple-black ovoid berry with pit surrounded by sugary pulp

--var. guineense: bark more or less smooth, fruit less than 1.2 cm long

--var. macrocarpum: bark creviced and scaly, fruit more than 1.2 cm long

Najadaceae (see Hydrocharitaceae)


[FWTA2 1, p. 177]
leaves often in unequal pairs: Boerhavia

leaves in roughy equal pairs: Commicarpus

Boerhavia (also spelled Boerhaavia)

Boerhavia coccinea var. coccinea 50457 (syn B. repens subsp. viscosa)

records: Macina (Boudet); if correctly identified, the common Boerhavia at Tanga (Tiranige speaking) and Segue, present but less common than B. repens farther north (Douentza, Hombori)

notes: stems erect or ascending; sticky and hairy leaves (therefore usually covered with sand), capitulum 4-12 flowered, flowers pink or mauve

reference: illustration in FWTA2 1, p. 177

Boerhavia diffusa 50454

records: Bamako, Gao (Boudet); common weed in ditches and roadsides in Bamako, my earlier reports for Dogon country are probably B. coccinea (JH)

notes: herb, initially prostrate then rising at ends; stem is full (not hollow); leaf margin undulating; capitulum 2-7 flowered, upper part of calyx bright red to dark violet; fruit (grain) rounded at top

Boerhavia erecta

records: none (Boudet); Burkina Faso (African Fl. Plants Database)

notes: like B. diffusa, fruit truncated at top

Boerhavia repens 50455 [habit resembles Trianthema portulacastrum and Commicarpus helenae as well as other Boerhavia]

[former subsp. viscosa now referred to B. coccinea var. coccinea]

subspecies (with records)

subsp. (undefined): Gao, Tumbuktu, Sanga (Boudet) [perhaps subsp. repens]

subsp. diandra 50456: Adrar (Boudet)

records: very common rainy-season weed in towns and villages in Dogon and montane Songhay country, e.g. Hombori, Douentza, Sevare, Bendiely, Segue (JH)

notes: plant variable; herb, generally prostrate; stem is hollow; leaf margin entire; flower in very small axillary cymes, upper part of calyx pale pink

taxonomy: some records may be reassigned to B. coccinea

Commicarpus helenae 50458 (syn C. verticillata)

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

notes: herb often woody at base, stems scrambling or climbing; leaves opposite, of equal size, 3-6 cm x 2-4 cm, base horizontal, petiole 0.8-1.5 cm; mauve (or white?) flowers in successive verticels along stems, each flower in the form of a narrow tube, spreading out at top; fruit is a long thin seed with glands at top

Commicarpus verticillata, see C. helenae


[true water lilies]

key to local spp.: leaf margin dentate (N. lotus)

leaf margin entire

hairy umbo on top of leaf above petiole (N. micrantha)

no hairy umbo (N. maculata)
Nymphaea caerulea (see N. maculata and N. nouchali var. caerulea)

Nymphaea heudelotii (very close to N. maculata)

records: Senegal and Guinea (Berhaut)

habitat: rivulets and shallow running water (Berhaut)

notes: much smaller than other spp., leaf 3-8 cm long, underside with blackish brown spots

Nymphaea lotus 50460

subtypes of fruits

red seeds (called "water.lily-sorghum" around Douentza)

brown seeds (called "water.lily-Panicum.laetum[wild fonio]" around Douentza)

grey seeds (called "water.lily-millet" around Douentza)

records: Tabaco, San, Bourem, Gao (Boudet); Boro (near Bendiely), Douentza, Hombori area, Ogol (Yanda), pond on road Douentza to Bamba, and widely in Songhay and Dogon country (JH)

notes: large leaf 15-30 cm x 15-30 cm or more, leaf sharply toothed (perhaps not in all varieties) with many strong nerves and usually hairy beneath, nerves branching less than half-way to edge with further secondary branching [locally the underside of the leaf is often dark purple/JH]; lamina up to 30 cm diameter, anther-connective blunt and very shortly produced; flowers up to 20 cm diameter

Nymphaea maculata 50461 [apparently in Berhaut as N. caerulea, but cf. N. nouchali var. caerulea]

records: Gao, Yanfolila, Tabacco (Boudet); Bounou, Boussouma (JH)

habitat: pools and lakes

notes: leaf more circular than micrantha, green on both sides, but bottom may have purple spots esp. near edge; leaf 15-25 cm long; borders often undulated in lower third; leaves not bearing bulbils, hairy umbo absent; flowers white or whitish lilac or with pale blue petal lip; sepals up to 1 cm broad and 4 cm long; 14-20 petals; 4 sepals are thick, widely lanceolate, with lines and spots of reddish black on back; substantial rhizome

commercialization: red and green forms of “Nymphaea maculata” are sold as aquarium plants with submerged leaves

taxonomy: similar to N. heudelotii but coarser (African Flowering Plants Database)

Nymphaea micrantha 50462

subtypes of rhizomes:

small rhizome of first-year plant, called "peanut-water.lily" around Douentza, the tastiest of all water lily rhizomes 50463

larger rhizome of older plant, edible but less tasty 50464

records: Kabara, Rharous, Gao (Boudet); Ouami east of Hombori, Walo, Anda, pond near Bore, pond on road Douentza to Bamba (JH)

habitat: lakes, pools

notes [but cf. comment below]: bottom of leaf reddish with blackish violet spots; two lobes of leaf at base are acuminate and divergent (pointed and separated); small leaf 7-17 cm long [but see comment below], 4-12 cm wide (sometimes bigger); leaves of plants 2-3 years old bear a cluster of bulbils, arising at the top of the petiole (where it attaches to the leaf) from a hairy umbo, eventually sometimes emitting tiny leaves; flowers about 10-12 cm diameter when spread out; connective of anther shortly produced, conical, terete; 10 or more petals; sepals are narrow, lanceolate, acuminate with dark violet spots on back

comment: we apply “Nymphaea micrantha (cf.)” to a local type with fairly large oval leaves (less circular than N. maculata), entire leaf margins (not dentate like N. lotus), and a tuft of hairs on the leaf above the attachment point of the petiole (absent in N. maculata). In our variety, the underside of the leaf is green (with dark spots) rather than red, and there are 4 sepals; these details differ from the smaller “N. micrantha” with 5 sepals described by Berhaut. Northern Dogon water-lily terms primarily denote the rhizomes, which are harvested for food. In the case of N. micrantha (cf.) the small, globular rhizome of the first-year plant (the most highly prized of all local Nymphaea rhizomes) is distinguished by northern Dogon from the large, elongated rhizome of the more mature plant, and both are distinguished from the rhizome of N. lotus

taxonomy: very close to N. nouchali var. caerulea (except for leaf bulbils)

Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea (very close to N. micrantha)

[ostensibly in Berhaut as N. caerulea, but description there may be of N. maculata, which is given there as a synonym]

records:; none for Mali (Boudet)

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