Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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(for Sansevieria see now Dracaenaceae [or Ruscaceae])

Agave americanum

records: planted in far south of Mali (and southern Burkina)

notes: very large plant, towering central flower spike (to 4 m)

Agave sisalana

records: (if correctly identified) occurs in rocky areas on the Dogon plateau and its margins (Tanga, Anda)

notes: leaves about 1-1.5 m long, central flower spike to about 1.5-2 m

taxonomy: our earlier records confused with "tall Sansevieria"


(for Gisekia see Gisekiaceae; for Glinus, Limeum, Mollugo see Molluginaceae)

Sesuvium sesuvioides (syn Trianthema polysperma)

records: Timbuktu, El Ayoun el Kohal (Boudet)

habitat: sand

notes: [from web] succulent creeping annual herb with thick leaves and thick reddish stem, tiny red flowers
Trianthema (in Berhaut under Ficoidae, vol. 4)

Trianthema portulacastrum 50676 [resembles Boerhavia repens]

records: Nioro du Sahel, Macina, Timbuktu (Boudet)

habitat: weed of waste places and fields

notes: fleshy, prostrate herb; stems to 0.5 m long

ethnobotany: UPWTA 1.39-40

Trianthema polysperma (see Sesuvium sesuvioides)

Zaleya pentandra 50020

records: Adrar, Gao, Mopti (Boudet); Beni and Perge near Douentza (JH)

habitat: forms close cover over waste ground

notes: semi-succulent, prostrate herb with stout stem

ethnobotany: UPWTA 1.40 (burned for potash in Timbuktu)


[monocots, Berhaut vol. 9]

Limnophyton obtusifolium (syn Sagittaria obtusifolia)

records: Gao (Boudet)

habitat: muddy swamp margins

notes: erect tufted herb

Ranalisma humile

records: Ansongo, Gao, Sotuba (Boudet)

habitat: swampy areas


(monocots; below as now circumscribed by APG II sensu strictu, but in broader use includes Amaryllidaceae and Agapanthaceae)

Allium cepa (cultivated onion)

Allium sativum (cultivated garlic)

Allium ascalonicum (shallot)

Allium fistulosum and others (scallion)

Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (leek)


Achyranthes (resemble Cyathula, but Achyranthes flowers are linear)

Achyranthes argentea (see A. aspera var. sicula)

Achyranthes aspera var. aspera

records: var aspera: Mopti, Bore, Timbuktu (Boudet)

habitat: shade

notes: perennial, subligneous in lower parts, roots thick and woody; leaf 4-9 cm x 3-6 cm; petiole 5-10 mm; stem roughly quadrangular

Achyranthes aspera var. sicula 50024 (in Boudet as A. argentea)

records: var sicula: lac Debo, Gao, Sanga (Boudet) ; throughout Dogon country (JH)

notes: ephemeral annual (rainy season); to 50-80 cm; leaves pubescent, silvery, but becoming glabrous when mature, 4-19 cm x 2-4 cm; petiole variable 2-30 mm; stem quadrangular with furrows

image (var.aspera) Hawaii

Aerva javanica 50025

records: Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal, Gosi (Boudet); common in north (Gao, Timbuktu), seen in Ouami area east of Hombori (JH)

habitat: sand

notes: whitish tinge all over (white hairs on leaf and stems); cottony white flowers in panicles of dense spikes

key to local spp.:

leaf oval A. pungens

leaf longer & thinner

flower segments sharply acuminate (pointed), stems smooth A. nodiflora

flower segments not sharply acuminate, stems rugged A. sessilis

Alternanthera nodiflora 50026

records: Djenne, Segue (JH)

notes: erect at base then falling over and trailing on ground; perianth segments 4 mm long, very acute, completely hiding the mature fruit; leaves linear-lanceolate, acute or subacute, obscurely undulate, up to 7 cm long and 1 cm broad, glabrous or nearly so; petals sharply pointed

Alternanthera pungens 50027 (in Berhaut as A. repens) (“khaki weed”)

records: Hombori (Boudet); Segue (JH)

habitat: ruderal, wet sand

notes: mainly trailing on ground; leaf oval 2-4 cm x 1-2.5 cm

Alternanthera sessilis 50028

records: Djenne (JH)

notes: usually trailing on ground; perianth segments 2-2.5 cm long, not very acute, not hiding mature fruit; leaves oblanceolate or elliptic, up to 8 cm long and 2 cm broad but often much smaller, glabrous or nearly so and often pustulate; petals not sharply pointed

Amaranthus (most of these are edible--foliage & stems cooked in sauces)

Amaranthus angustifolius 50029

(doubtful for area)

Amaranthus dubius 50030 (cultivated)

notes: erect; many flower spikes on stem, often decumbent (hanging), cultivated

taxonomy: believed to be an ancient hybrid with A. spinosus and another amaranth, close to A. hybridus (in Berhaut & Boudet)

native term: Bambara ɲugu

ethnobotany: formerly cultivated in southern Mali, has spread recently into Dogon country, leaves used as a spinach for sauces

Amaranthus graecizans 50031

records: San, Djenne, Timbuktu, Nioro, Gao (Boudet); Hombori, Douentza (JH)

habitat: wet sand, around villages, weed

notes: may trail on ground or rise to 50 cm, leaves linear to elliptical, 1-4 cm long at base of plant; tiny green flowers

Amaranthus spinosus 50032

records: Kita, Segou (Boudet); Sevare, Segue, widespread in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: wet sand, ruderal, gregarious

notes: resembles A. viridis but considerably larger; erect bushy herb; stems often red; tiny flowers with 5 sepals; few flower spikes at end of stem; two spines at the base of each petiole

Amaranthus viridis 50033

records: Kabara, San, Djenne, Sanga (Boudet); Sevare, Segue, Sangha, Anda, widespread in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: needs nitrogen

notes: resembles A. spinosus but smaller; erect herb; tiny flowers with 3 sepals; many flower spikes at end of stem; no spines

Celosia (spikes resemble Pandiaka spp., but leaves generally alternate and have petioles)

Celosia argentea 50034 (introduced)

records: Hombori, Gao (Boudet)

notes: flowers in dense terminal spike (cf. Pandiaka) 3-10 cm long; tip of spike sometimes pink before flowering; petiole 1.2-1.5 cm with a “gutter” on top

Celosia trigyna 50035

records: Segou, Niono (Boudet); Douentza (road to Fombori), Beni (JH)

habitat: humid areas, sometimes in shade or on termitaries

notes: small white flowers in small successive glomerules in terminal inflorescence (like interrupted spike); leaf with 8-10 lateral nerves; young plant has falciform (sickle-shaped) leaflets at base of petioles; long petiole 3-8 cm; stem cross-section pentagonal

Cyathula (resemble Achyranthes, not definitely recorded in northern Dogon ctry; flowers are ovoid, not linear, and shorter [3-4 mm] than those of Achyranthes)

Cyathula achyranthoides (Boudet)

records: Bamako

habitat: humid, shady

notes: flower has several thorny bracts extending beyond sommet of petals and sepals

Cyathula prostrata

records: Timbuktu, Koulikoro (Boudet)

habitat: “zones incultes”

notes: stem cross-section quadrangular to nearly cylindrical

Nothosaerva brachiata 50036

records: Menaka, Dire (Boudet); Ansongo (CIRAD specimen); Douentza (road to Fombori) (JH)

habitat: inundatable sandy-clayey flats

notes: erect, 30-60 cm; tiny white flowers in spiciform capitula
Pandiaka (these plants resemble Celosia spp., but leaves are opposite and sessile)

Pandiaka angustifolia 50037 (in Berhaut as P. heudelotii)

records: Ansongo, Bandiagara, Bamako, Niono (Boudet); inselberg slopes in northern Dogon country, plateaus in central/southern Dogon country (Bandiagara, Segue) (JH)

habitat: ruderal (fields, sand, rocky debris)

notes: leaf linear, subsessile acute, 6-10 cm x 8 mm broad; whole plant sparingly pubescent; flower heads subtended by linear, leaf-like bracts up to 5 cm long

Pandiaka involucrata

records: Sikasso, Nampala (Boudet)

habitat: sandy

notes: leaf lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, sessile, subacute, 5-8 cm x 3 cm broad; whole plant long-pilose; flower heads subtended by foliaceous, ovate bracts about 1 cm long

Pupalia lappacea 50038

records: Timbuktu, Bamba, Gao, Niono (Boudet); common through Songhay and Dogon zones (JH)

habitat: rocky debris, beside watercourses, often ruderal

notes: erect; has abundant burrs that stick to clothing (cf. cram-cram grass, Cenchrus biflorus)

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