Genus Chlorocypha Fraser, 1928
African jewels

Type species: Agrion dispar Palisot de Beauvois, 1807


Endemic to tropical Africa with about 30 medium-sized (hindwing 18-28 mm) species largely confined to forested running waters in central and western Africa. Only C. curta has a distinct preference for more open landscapes, appearing in disturbed and drier habitats, even having an isolated Saharan population in the Jebel Marra of western Sudan. Within forest environments not all species’ preferences are known, although for example in Eastern Africa C. aphrodite prefers sandy streams, C. frigida and C. trifaria smaller streams, and C. victoriae and especially C. pyriformosa larger rivers (even the Congo). In West Africa, C. curta is also on open streams and C. pyriformosa on rivers, while there C. selysi is found on the smallest streams and C. luminosa and C. radix on the largest, with C. dispar intermediate and C. rubida favouring muddy streams. The taxonomy of the red species is problematic, for example C. fabamacula and C. victoriae may be indistinguishable, while dark males of the former with very black tibiae may be confused with C. wittei. Many of these species are very localised and poorly known, or even known only from their type locality (C. aurora, C. dahli, C. flammea, C. ghesquierei, C. granata, C. jejuna, C. maxima, C. neptunus, C. schmidti, C. wittei). The colourful C. cancellata and C. helenae look very distinct and may not be closely related to the other species. This may also be true for the endemic radiation of at least three blue species in Angola (C. bamptoni, C. crocea, C. rubriventris). [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Genus may only be confused with Africocypha and Stenocypha as the male tibiae are never expanded and largely black, at most with whitish pruinosity or anterior side with white streak. Differs from Stenocypha by the broad rather than slender abdomen, S3 under 2x as long as wide. See Africocypha for separation of that genus. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

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.


  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B. (2003). Problems in Chlorocypha classification: four cases from West Africa and a discussion of the taxonomic pitfalls (Odonata: Chlorocyphidae). International Journal of Odonatology, 6, 109-126. [PDF file]
  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B. (2007). The name-bearing types of Odonata held in the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, with systematic notes on Afrotropical taxa. Part 2: Zygoptera and species descriptions. International Journal of Odonatology, 10, 137-170. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1964). Dragonflies (Odonata) of the Angola-Congo borders of Rhodesia. Publicacoes culturais Companhia Diamantes Angola, 63, 95-130. [PDF file]
  • Longfield, C. (1936). Studies on African Odonata, with synonymy and descriptions of new species and subspecies. Transactions Royal Entomological Society London, 85, 467-498. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [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]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1967). Odonata Zygoptera. Exploration Hydrobiologique Bassin Lac Bangweolo Luapula, 14, 1-43. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies collected on an expedition from Rhodesia to Nigeria in 1958. Part 1. Entomologists Monthly Magazine, 96, 256-271. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-07-20].