Guide to plants of northern and east-central Mali

Araceae (ex-Lemnaceae at end of section)

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Araceae (ex-Lemnaceae at end of section)

[monocots; flowers are on a type of inflorescence called a spadix (small flowers crowded on a thickened, fleshy axis), which is accompanied by and sometimes enclosed in a spathe (leaf-like hood]


Amorphophallus aphyllus 5008 2

records: Bamako, Yanfolila (Boudet); Anda (near stream), Nando (JH)

habitat: gravelly soil

notes: leaves narrower than for A. baumannii; spadix may occur without leaves emerging from earth

Amorphophallus baumannii 50083 (“yellow arum”; syn A. flavovirens)

[note: "webbed" leaves resemble those of Tacca leontopetaloides]

records: none (Boudet); Douentza area (JH)

habitat: inselbergs

notes: striking plant with “webbed” leaves [compare Tacca leontopetaloides]; widest part of leaf close to tip (unlike Tacca); long yellow spadix (flower) to 30 cm emerging from leafy spathe; powerful odor; specimens with flowers deteriorate and blacken rapidly

Amorphophallus flavovirens (see A. baumannii)

Colocasia esculenta 50084 (cultivated taro)

records: not generally known in Dogon or montane Songhay area (JH)

Pistia stratiotes 50085 (“water lettuce”, “salade aquatique”)

records: Djenne, Sanga (Boudet); widespread in Dogon country (JH)

habitat: forms mats in stagnant ponds, including man-made ponds in villages, also Mopti-Sevare (JH)

notes: distinctive floating “water lettuce”
Stylochaeton (also spelled Stylochiton)

Stylochaeton lancifolius 50086 (syn S. warneckei, synonymy uncertain)

records: Tiediana (Boudet); Hombori, Douentza area (Dianwely), Anda, Kubewel (JH)

habitat: open spots in wooded savanna

notes: low plant, distinctive long dark green leaves with undulating edges, radiating outwards from plant like some “wild onions”
ex-family Lemnaceae (“duckweeds,” small floating plants)

websites: (North American spp.)

Lemna aequinoctialis (syn L. paucicostata)

records: Timbuktu, Mopti, Dioliba (Boudet); Ogol near Yanda (JH)

habitat: floating

reference: Kandeler & Huegel, Plant Syst. Evol. 123: 83-96 (1974)

Lemna hyalina (see Wolffiella hyalina)

Lemna paucicostata (see L. aequinoctialis)
Pseudowolffia (see Wolffiella hyalina)
Wolffia [the smallest of all flowering plants, look like dots of cornmeal on water]

Wolffia arrhiza

records: none (Boudet)

Wolffia welwitschii (see Wolffiopsis welwitschii)
Wolffiella [reassigned by some to Wolffiopsis and Pseudowolffia]

Wolffiella hyalina (syn Pseudowolffia hyalina, Lemna hyalina)

records: Djenne (Boudet)

habitat: floating

taxonomy: African Flowering Plants Database accepts Wolffiella hyalina rather than Pseudowolffia

Wolffiella welwitschii (syn Wolffiopsis welwitschii, Wolffia welwitschii)

records: plain of Bani R. (Boudet)

habitat: floating

Wolffiopsis (see Wolffiella welwitschii)



Cussonia arborea (in Berhaut as C. barteri var. kirkii, also syn C. kirkii)

records: Yanfolila, forest near Bamako, Sikasso (Boudet); none (JH)

notes: tree 5-10 m

Cussonia barteri (see C. arborea)

Arecaceae (=Palmae)

palms [monocots]

Borassus aethiopum 50087

records: more southerly than Hyphaene, northern limit around Douentza, becoming the common palm in central Dogon country and points south (JH)

habitat: solitary, savanna

notes: single massive straight trunk

ethnobotany: logs sold even north of its range as a roof beam for housing; fruits sold in markets (orange pulp)


Elaeis guineensis 50681 (“oil palm”)

records: in plantations in coastal West African countries (not Mali)

ethnobotany: a red sauce made from this palm is known to some Dogon


Hyphaene thebaica 50088 (“doum palm”)

records: the common native palm of Gao and Hombori; overlaps with Borassus in the Douentza area, but uncommon farther south where Borassus dominates

habitat: forms stands in moist sandy areas

notes: several slender crooked trunks typically emerge from same base

ethnobotany: fronds used for weaving fans and mats; segments of fruits can be sucked


Phoenix dactylifera 50089 (planted true date palm)

records: planted in and around some villages for harvesting of dates

ethnobotany: a type of sweet-sour hard yellow date (50793) is well-known in Hombori (local Songhay name: hargaajo); high-quality brown dates (usually hardened) are imported from Algeria; dates can be given to guests at e.g. name-giving ceremonies (baptêmes) as an alternative to kola nuts

note: "wild date" (datte sauvage) is the local term for Balanites (Balanitaceae)



Aristolochia albida 50090 (compare with Tinospora bakis, Menispermaceae)

records: Kanikombole (Boudet): Kikara (JH)

habitat: savanna (Boudet); thickets on slope of inselbergs, e.g. Kikara (JH)

notes: woody liana; broad cordate leaves (cf. Tinospora); fruits easily distinguished (dry hard decumbent pod for Aristolochia, red berries for Tinospora); leaf has two lateral nerves rising nearly to summit on the sides of the central nerve

ethnobotany: roots medicinal but bitter-tasting (cf. Tinospora)

native names: combined with Tinospora into a taxon, distinguished by "male/female" modifiers (TSK Songhay)

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