Anax tristis Hagen, 1867
Black Emperor

Type locality: Guinea, no locality data available.


Male is similar to A. chloromelas by (a) dorsum of frons with black basal marking that is wider than vertex, but no anterior dark bar; (b) femora brown to black, rather like tibiae; (c) S4-10 black with (sometimes indistinct) yellow to blue spots; (d) epiproct has 15-30% length of cerci, broad with truncate or widely notched apex, teeth usually only at apex. However, differs by (1) great size, Hw 56-65 mm; (2) Hw base with dark patch bordering membranule; (3) membranule dark, with contrasting whitish base, rather than being all dark; (4) Abd about 1.5x as long as Hw, rather than being the same length; (5) markings on S3-10 yellow, turning greenish or brownish with age, rather than green at first and turning blue; (6) cerci rectangular with truncate apex, rather than triangular with tapered apex. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

Habitat description

Standing and mostly temporary waters in open landscapes, but sometimes in open areas in forest. Often with emergent vegetation. From 0 to 2100 m above sea level, but mostly below 1600.


confirmed: Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burundi; Côte d'Ivoire; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo-Brazzaville; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe; NOT confirmed: Ethiopia; South Sudan

Male © KD Dijkstra

Appendages (dorsal view)

Frons (dorsal view)

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.

Barcode specimen(s):

Adult, male; Angola, Uige Province, new campus site and environs © Clausnitzer, V. & Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Female; Democratic Republic of Congo, Katanga, Upemba National Park © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Democratic Republic of Congo, Province Orientale, Lower Lomami © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Liberia, Grand Gedeh County, Putu Iron Ore Mining concession © Dijkstra, K.-D.B. & A. Dayeker


  • Hagen, H.A. (1867). Notizen beim Studium von Brauer's Novara-Neuropteren. Verhandllungen der kaiserlich-kongiglichen zoologish-botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien, 17, 31-62.
  • Ris, F. (1921). The Odonata or Dragonflies of South Africa. Annals South African Museum, XVIII, 245-452. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [PDF file]
  • Ris, F. (1911). Ueber einige afrikanische Arten der Aeschninen-Gattung Anax. Annales Societe Entomologique Belgique, 55, 320-324. [PDF file]
  • McLachlan, R. (1883). Two new species of Anax, with notes on other dragonflies of the same genus. Entomological Monthly Magazine, 20, 127-131. [PDF file]
  • Schouteden, H. (1934). Annales Musee Congo belge Zoologie 3 Section 2, 3, 1-84. [PDF file]
  • Lieftinck, M.A. (1969). Odonates Anisoptères - Odonata Anisoptera. Explor. hydrob. Lac Bangweolo and Luapula, 14, 1-64. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-05-26].