Genus Phyllomacromia Selys, 1878
African cruisers


  • scientific: Macromia Rambur, 1842 (in part); Pseudogomphus Kirby, 1889 [insignis]; Ceratopyga Nunney, 1895 [aeneothorax]; Hylaeschna Sjöstedt, 1899 [paludis = paula]

Type species: Macromia trifasciata Rambur, 1842


About 35 species are endemic to Africa with a single Malagasy species. All seldom settle (hanging in vegetation) and are hard to catch: over water they fly low, fast, erratically and often in shade. Hunting away from water, in glades and along forest margins and roadsides, they fly more slowly but often quite high. Most species reproduce in flowing water, such as forest streams. Such streams are the habitat especially of larger and darker species like P. aeneothorax, P. aureozona, P. caneri, P. insignis, P. lieftincki, P. melania, P. monoceros, P. paula, P. sophia and P. sylvatica, as well as P. unifasciata. The smaller and paler species P. africana, P. amicorum, P. flavimitella, P. nigeriensis, P. picta and P. pseudafricana generally occur in drier habitats, like savanna and woodland, as do P. congolica, P. contumax, P. overlaeti and P. pallidinervis. These openland species probably breed mainly in rivers, although at least P. africana, P. contumax and P. picta also use lakes. Whether other stagnant habitats are used much is unclear, although P. maesi is found near blackwater forest swamps. The preferences of the remaining species are even more unclear, although the great morphological diversity of the larvae suggests they occupy very diverse microhabitats. Adults of all species have long clubbed abdomens, spidery legs and bright green eyes (golden yellow in P. unifasciata). They are fairly small to very large (hindwing 27-55 mm), bronzy brown to black, marked conspicuously with yellow, demonstrating extreme diversity in markings, secondary genitalia and appendages. Some widespread species (e.g. P. africana, P. contumax, P. overlaeti and P. picta) are particularly variable in the extent of pale markings and thus quite a few synonyms exist. Males may have abdominal segment 10 raised to a peak, surmounted by one or two spine- or tuft-like coagulations of bristles, called cones. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Male of genus is similar to Idomacromia by (a) wings with 2-8 Cux; (b) supratriangles with 1-6 cross-veins; (c) Hw arculus far proximal to triangle. However, differs by (1) sectors of arculus fused for distance almost equal to arculus length; (2) anal loop stout, of 4-9 cells, at most extends as far as distal end of triangle, without midrib. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014; this diagnosis not yet verified by author]

Phyllomacromia hervei (Legrand, 1980). Female © KD Dijkstra

Map citation: Clausnitzer, V., K.-D.B. Dijkstra, R. Koch, J.-P. Boudot, W.R.T. Darwall, J. Kipping, B. Samraoui, M.J. Samways, J.P. Simaika & F. Suhling, 2012. Focus on African Freshwaters: hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 129-134.


  • Fraser, F.C. (1954). New species of Macromia from tropical Africa. Revue de Zoologie et de Botanique Africaines, 49, 41-76. [PDF file]
  • Gambles, R.M. (1979). West African species of Macromia (Odonata: Corduliidae) belonging to the picta and sophia groups. Systematic Entomology, 4, 389-407. [PDF file]
  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B. (2005). The identity of some widespread and variable Phyllomacromia species, with a revised grouping of the genus (Anisoptera: Corduliidae). Odonatologica, 34, 11-16. [PDF file]
  • Barnard, K.H. (1937). Notes on dragon-flies (Odonata) of the S. W. Cape with descriptions of the nymphs and of new species. Annals South African Museum, 32, 169-260. [PDF file]
  • Sjöstedt, Y. (1900). Odonaten aus Kamerun, West -Afrika. Beltrage Zur Kenntnis der insektenfauna von Kamerun. Binhang Kongliga Svenka VetenskapsAkademiens Handlingar, 25, 1-62.
  • Pinhey, E. C. G. (1962) Some records of Odonata collected in tropical Africa. Journal Entomological Society Southern Africa 25: 20-50 [PDF file]
  • Schouteden, H. (1934). Annales Musee Congo belge Zoologie 3 Section 2, 3, 1-84. [PDF file]
  • Schmidt, E. (1951). Libellen aus Portugiesisch Guinea, mit Bemerkungen über andere aethiopische Odonaten. Arquivos Museu Bocage, 20, 125-200. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-07-21].