Genus Oreocnemis Pinhey, 1971
Mulanje damsels

Type species: Oreocnemis phoenix Pinhey, 1971


Monotypic genus endemic to open and forested streams on the Mulanje plateau (1800-2200 m) in southern Malawi. O. phoenix is unlike any other African damselfly, males are fairly large (hindwing 23-25 mm) with reddish face, legs, thorax and pterostigmas, extensive black markings on head and thorax, and entirely red abdomen. Although it was long classified in Platycnemididae, the genetics of Oreocnemis indicate it is nearer Ceriagrion, Teinobasis and especially the giant Coryphagrion, with which it shares some remarkable morphological similarities. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Unique damselfly, the male is easily recognised by the combination of (1) restricted to Mt Mulanje, Malawi; (2) relatively small size, Hw 23-25 mm; (3) entirely red eyes, legs and abdomen; (4) transverse ridge on frons absent; (5) postocular spots absent; (6) thorax with unique black markings including a broad interpleural band; (7) cerci much longer than paraprocts, curved towards each other like forceps. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

Oreocnemis phoenix Pinhey, 1971. Male © 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.


  • Pinhey, E. (1971). A new zygopteran genus (Odonata) from Malawi. Arnoldia Rhodesia, 5, 1-6. [PDF file]
  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B, and Clausnitzer, V. (2014). The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa: handbook for all Odonata from Sudan to Zimbabwe. Studies in Afrotropical Zoology, 298, 1-264.

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