Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

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“wild onions,” see also Hyacinthaceae

(monocots; in APG II, optionally subsumed under Alliaceae; in previous classifications sometimes included under Liliaceae)


Crinum asiaticum

records: none (Boudet)

Crinum distichum

records: Bamako-Sotuba, Niono (Boudet)

habitat: temporarily inundated zones

notes: bulb 6 cm thick; leaves linear, folded into a gutter, 30-50 cm x 1-2 cm; flower white with pink or purple stripe in center

ethnobotany: bulb toxic

Crinum ornatum 50039 (syn C. zeylanicum)

records: Niono, Gourma Rharous (Boudet); northern Dogon country, Hombori (JH)

habitat: beside ponds

notes: bulb 4-9 (-15) cm thick; leaves linear to narrowly lanceolate, 30-80 cm x 3-5 cm; flower white with pink or purple stripe in center

ethnobotany: bulb toxic

taxonomy: according to African Flowering Plant Database: excluded taxon, syn of a) C. kirkii Baker sensu Nordal in Norw. J. Bot.; b) C. ornatum (L.f. ex Aiton) Bury sensu Nordal in F.T.E.A , in Fl. du Cameroun & Fl. du Gabon; c) C. politifolium sensu Nordal in Norw. J. Bot)

Crinum zeylanicum (see C. ornatum)

Pancratium tenuifolium 50040 [not in CIRAD]

records: none (Boudet); possibly Walo (specimen sterile, similar to but smaller than P. trianthum) (JH)

notes: base of leaf pubescent; single bulb 2.5-5 cm wide, 1-5 leaves per bulb, folded (V-shape cross-section), 0.5-1 cm wide; flower white, with golden-yellow pollen; usually 1 flower per umbel; flowers in May

Pancratium trianthum 50041

records: Timbuktu; Hombori, widespread in northern Dogon country (JH)

habitat: sand dunes

notes: plant glabrous; bulb around 4 cm thick; 5-15 leaves per bulb, spirally twisted, 20-30 cm x 4-7 mm, rounded (U-shape cross-section); flowers white with pale yellow pollen; usually 2-3 flowers per umbel; flowers July-August

taxonomy: a second, smaller species is known at Walo (not yet identified)

Scadoxus multiflorus

records: Ban Markala, Kouor, banks of Banifing (Boudet)

habitat: degraded brousse in shade, or forest galleries; widely cultivated in Europe etc

notes: rhizome or bulb; blood-red flowers; leaf lanceolate to oval; flower is umbel with more than 20 flowers

ethnobotany: bulb is highly toxic


(for Ameplocissus and Cissus, see Vitaceae)


trees; leaves alternate, often composite and imparipennate (Lannea, Sclerocarya, Spondias)

Anacardium occidentale 50042 (planted cashew tree)

habitat: planted in towns

notes: juicy fruits are sucked and discarded; nuts not consumed locally


Lannea acida 50043

records: Bamako, Niono, between San and Segou (Boudet); southern Dogon country, a few trees also near Walo (JH)

notes: tree 5-10 m, imparipennate leaf with 3-5 pairs of leaflets which end in a long acuminate point; fruits similar to those of L. microcarpa but not as good to eat

Lannea humilis 50045

records: Kayes (Boudet); Tupere, Hombori (JH)

notes: small tree to 3 m; imparipennate leaf with 6-9 pairs of leaflets; leaf specimen could be confused for Commiphora pedunculata (Burseraceae) but the latter has dentations around the follioles; the photos for “Lannea humilis” in Arbonnier are actually of Lannea fruticosa, a somewhat similar sp.

Lannea microcarpa 50046

records: very common throughout Dogon and montane Songhay country

habitat: hills

notes: tree; the common “raisin sauvage,” fruits sold in markets (sucked with pit and skin spit out, or made into a juice or fermented into an alcoholic drink); imparipennate leaves with 2-4 pairs of leaflets with obtuse tip

ethnobotany: fresh fruits sold in markets (June-July) for eating/sucking (seeds spit out); juice can be made from fresh or sun-dried fruits throughout the year; juice can be fermented into a beer; dried fruits are boiled with Balanites nuts and liquid soda ash to make a black soap; oil is pressed from seeds and used as a body lotion or as a women's hair oil


Mangifera indica 50047 (mango, planted)

records: known throughout the zone

Ozoroa insignis subsp. latifolia 50048 (syn Heeria insignis [thus in Berhaut])

records: Bandiagara to Mopti, Kati, Yanfolila, Sanga (Boudet); Bounou, Diangassagou, absent from northeastern Dogon country (JH)

habitat: wooded savanna on laterite or gravel

notes: tree 3-5 m; leaves verticillate by 3-4; leaf elliptic-lanceolate 6-10 cm x 2-3 cm with 20-35 lateral nerves perpendicular to median nerve; shiny black berries in racemes

Sclerocarya birrea 50049

records: well-known from Gao to Dogon country (JH)

habitat: lateritic soil

notes: tree; imparipennate leave with 5-8 pairs of leaflets, sometimes entire but often dentate; foliage bunched at ends of branches

ethnobotany: juicy yellow fruits are sucked or made into a beverage; oil is extracted from pits


Spondias mombin 50050 (“hog plum”)

records: Djenne, Bamako, Sanga (Boudet); Kikara, Tebul (on heights), Anda, Djenne, Dianwely, generally well-known in northern Dogon country (JH)

notes: tree; imparipennate leaf with 5-8 pairs of leaflets; fruits (green then yellow when ripe) hang down in panicles, pulp can be sucked (and sold in markets) but rather acidic

ethnobotany: fruits edible but sour, sold (cheaply) in a few rural markets, can be used as a flavoring for cream of millet


trees; leaves alternate, fruits on peduncles just under base of leaves; flowers usually with 6 petals (3 external ones often distinct from 3 internal ones)

Annona reticulata 50051 (planted, introduced)

records: Douentza (planted) (JH)

notes: tree 5-8 m; leaf elliptical-lanceolate 10-15 cm x 3-5 cm

Annona senegalensis 50052 (two subspp.)

records: Bamako, Koulikoro, Gondo (south of Douentza); Kikara (one left), Bounou

habitat: psammophile (occupying cleared land)

notes: tree

ethnobotany: fruits edible

Annona squamosa 50053 (planted)

records: none (JH3)

ethnobotany: fruits (commercialized) known to well-traveled Dogon


Hexalobus monopetalus 54005

records: Mopti to Djenne, Macina, Sanga; central and southern Dogon country (Bounou, Tommo-So speaking plateau, Segue), absent farther northeast

habitat: rocky terrain

notes: tree 3-8 m; not known in Douentza or Hombori but familiar a bit farther south; fruits are oblong carpels, 3-5 cm x 2 cm, orange-red at maturity

ethnobotany: red or yellow fruits eaten raw (but ripe ones can be infested with grubs), sold in some rural markets (Sambera, Segue) around July-August


Monodora myristica 50050 5

records: tree absent from zone

ethnobotany: known in the zone in the form of nutmeg-like seeds (“calabash nutmeg” or “false nutmeg”), sold in markets (e.g. Douentza, Timbuktu) as a spice ; UPWTA 1.119-20

note: true nutmegs are Myristica spp., especially M. fragrans (Myristicaceae)

Uvaria chamae 50056

records: Kita (Boudet); Kikara summit, not otherwise seen or known in northern Dogon country (JH)

habitat: soudanian, river banks


Xylopia aethiopica 50057 (“Negro pepper”)

records: tree absent from Mali

ethnobotany: known in the form of dried and hardened blackish fruits (pod-like carpels, English name “grains of Selim”), sold in markets as a spice (with peppery taste) or medication

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