Dracaena draco

Last updated

Dracaena draco
Dracaena draco.jpg
The ancient specimen at Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Dracaena
D. draco
Binomial name
Dracaena draco
(L.) L. [2]
  • Asparagus dracoL.

Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands dragon tree or drago, [3] is a subtropical tree in the genus Dracaena , native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, and locally in western Morocco, and introduced to the Azores. It is the natural symbol of the island of Tenerife, together with the blue chaffinch. [4]


Dracaena draco in Vila Nova Sintra, Island of Brava, Cape Verde VilaNovaSintraDragoeiro2.jpg
Dracaena draco in Vila Nova Sintra, Island of Brava, Cape Verde
Dragon tree in the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, California Dragon Tree in the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, California.JPG
Dragon tree in the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, California


Dracaena draco is a monocot with a branching growth pattern currently placed in the asparagus family (Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoidae). [5] When young it has a single stem. At about 10–15 years of age the stem stops growing and produces a first flower spike with white, lily-like perfumed flowers, followed by coral berries. Soon a crown of terminal buds appears and the plant starts branching. Each branch grows for about 10–15 years and re-branches, so a mature plant has an umbrella-like habit. It grows slowly, requiring about ten years to reach 1.2 metres (4 ft) in height but can grow much faster. [6]

Being a monocotyledon, it does not display any annual or growth rings so the age of the tree can only be estimated by the number of branching points before reaching the canopy. The specimen called "El Drago Milenario" (the thousand-year-old dragon) growing at Icod de los Vinos in northwest Tenerife is the oldest living plant of this species. Its age was estimated in 1975 to be around 250 years, with a maximum of 365 years, not several thousand as had previously been claimed. [7] It is also the largest D. draco tree alive. Its massive trunk comes from the contribution of clusters of aerial roots that emerge from the bases of lowest branches and grow down to the soil. Descending along the trunk, they cling tightly to the trunk, integrate with it and contribute to its radial growth. [8] There is considerable genetic variation within the Canary Island dragon trees. The form found on Gran Canaria is now treated as a separate species, Dracaena tamaranae , based on differences in flower structure. The form endemic to La Palma initially branches very low with numerous, nearly vertical branches arranged fastigately. There is a forest of such trees at Las Tricias, Garafia district, La Palma. [9] [10]


When the bark or leaves are cut they secrete a reddish resin, one of several sources of substances known as dragon's blood. Red resins from this tree contain many mono- and dimeric flavans that contribute to the red color of the resins. [11] Dragon's blood has a number of traditional medical uses, although dragon's blood obtained from Dracaena draco was not known until the 15th century, [12] and analyses suggest that most dragon's blood used in art was obtained from species of the genus Daemonorops . [13] The primary and secondary plant body are the site of the secretory plant tissues that form dragon's blood. These tissues include ground parenchyma cells and cortex cells. [14] Dragon's blood from Dracaena draco and Dracaena cinnabari can be distinguished by differences in 10 compounds and a dominant flavonoid DrC11 missing in Dracaena draco. [13]

The Guanches worshiped a specimen in Tenerife, and hollowed its trunk into a small sanctuary. Humboldt saw it at the time of his visit. It was 70 feet (21 m) tall and 45 feet (14 m) in circumference, and was estimated to be 6000 years old. It was destroyed by a storm in 1868. [15]


Dracaena draco is cultivated and widely available as an ornamental tree for parks, gardens, and drought tolerant water conserving sustainable landscape projects. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. [16] [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Flavan-3-ol Any chemical compound having a flavan skeleton as a core structure with a hydroxy group attached in 3 position

Flavan-3-ols are derivatives of flavans that possess a 2-phenyl-3,4-dihydro-2H-chromen-3-ol skeleton. These compounds include catechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, proanthocyanidins, theaflavins, thearubigins.

<i>Pinus canariensis</i> Species of conifer in the family Pinaceae

Pinus canariensis, the Canary Island pine, is a species of gymnosperm in the conifer family Pinaceae. It is a large, evergreen tree native and endemic to the outer Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a subtropical pine and does not tolerate low temperatures or hard frost, surviving temperatures down to about −6 to −10 °C. Within its natural area, it grows under extremely variable rainfall regimes, from less than 300 mm (12 in) to several thousands, mostly due to differences in mist-capturing by the foliage. Under warm conditions, this is one of the most drought-tolerant pines, living even with less than 200 mm (7.9 in) of rainfall per year. It is the vegetable symbol of the island of La Palma.

<i>Dracaena</i> (plant) genus of plants

Dracaena ( is a genus of about 120 species of trees and succulent shrubs. In the APG IV classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae. It has also formerly been separated into the family Dracaenaceae or placed in the Agavaceae.

Dragons blood painting material and natural resin

Dragon's blood is a bright red resin which is obtained from different species of a number of distinct plant genera: Croton, Dracaena, Daemonorops, Calamus rotang and Pterocarpus. The red resin has been in continuous use since ancient times as varnish, medicine, incense, and dye.

<i>Xanthorrhoea</i> genus of plants

Xanthorrhoea is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants endemic to Australia. Species are known by the name grass tree.

<i>Daemonorops</i> genus of plants

Daemonorops is a genus of rattan palms in the family Arecaceae found primarily in the tropics and subtropics of southeastern Asia with a few species extending into southern China and the Himalayas.

<i>Samanea saman</i> species of plant

Samanea saman, also sometimes known as the rain tree, is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, now in the Mimosoid clade and is native to the Central and South America. Its range extends from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil, but it has been widely introduced to South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. Common names include saman, rain tree and monkeypod. It is often placed in the genus Samanea, which by yet other authors is subsumed in Albizia entirely.

<i>Sansevieria</i> genus of plants

Sansevieria is a historically recognized genus of flowering plants, native to Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia, now included in the genus Dracaena on the basis of molecular phylogenetic studies. Common names for the 70 or so species formerly placed in the genus include mother-in-law's tongue, devil's tongue, jinn's tongue, bow string hemp, snake plant and snake tongue. In the APG III classification system, Dracaena is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae. It has also been placed in the former family Dracaenaceae.

<i>Ceropegia dichotoma</i> species of plant

Ceropegia dichotoma is a flowering plant in the genus Ceropegia (Apocynaceae). It is endemic to the Canary Islands, where it grows on Tenerife, El Hierro, La Gomera, and La Palma in the Tabaibal-Cardonal zone at up to about 600 m altitude. It was first described in 1812.

<i>Hemithrinax ekmaniana</i> species of plant

Hemithrinax ekmaniana is a palm which is endemic to Cuba. Only a single population of less than 100 mature individuals remains in the wild.

Gibraltar Botanic Gardens botanical garden in Gibraltar

The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens or La Alameda Gardens are a botanical garden in Gibraltar, spanning around 6 hectares. The Rock Hotel lies above the park.

<i>Dracaena cinnabari</i> species of plant

Dracaena cinnabari, the Socotra dragon tree or dragon blood tree, is a dragon tree native to the Socotra archipelago, part of Yemen, located in the Arabian Sea. It is so called due to the red sap that the trees produce.

<i>Bystropogon</i> genus of plants

Bystropogon is a genus of evergreen shrubs in the family Lamiaceae. It is native to the Canary Islands and Madeira in the western Atlantic Ocean. Allied to the Origanum and Thymus, the genus is characterized by tiny flowers in much-branched clusters, with plume-like sepals that elongate at the fruiting stage, giving the whole tip of each branch a fuzzy appearance. Stems are square in cross-section and leaves, arranged in opposite pairs, are aromatic when crushed.

<i>Dracaena aletriformis</i> species of plant

Dracaena aletriformis is commonly known as the large-leaved dragon tree. These plants are found in forest in the eastern areas of South Africa from Port Elizabeth to northern and eastern Gauteng. They are also found in Swaziland, but are most common in the coastal and dune forests of KwaZulu-Natal.

Dragon's blood is a bright red resin obtained from number of distinct plants.

<i>Dracaena kaweesakii</i> species of plant

Dracaena kaweesakii is a species of dragon tree. It can reach 12 metres (39 ft) in both height and crown diameter. It is only found growing atop the limestone mountains in the Loei and the Lop Buri Provinces of Thailand.

Dragon's blood tree is a common name for several plants and may refer to:

<i>Aeonium sedifolium</i> species of plant

Aeonium sedifolium is a perennial flowering plant in the stonecrop family Crassulaceae. The plant is native to the western Canary Islands of Tenerife, La Gomera and La Palma.

El Drago Milenario giant tree in Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife

El Drago, also known as Drago Milenario and Drago de Icod de los Vinos, is the oldest and largest living specimen of Dracaena draco, or dragon tree, in Parque del Drago, Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife, Spain. It is said to be a thousand years old, although the age is disputed. It is one of the symbols of Tenerife, and was declared a national monument in 1917.

Parque del Drago

Drago Park is a park and one of the main visitor attractions in Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife. Created at the turn of the millennium, it contains El Drago Milenario, a dragon tree thought to be around 1,000 years old, as well as a variety of other native plants.


  1. Bañares, A.; et al. (1998). "Dracaena draco". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 1998: e.T30394A9535771. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.1998.RLTS.T30394A9535771.en .
  2. "Dracaena draco", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , retrieved 2013-11-12
  3. "Forest 15 - Dragon Tree", National Arboretum Canberra, Australian Government, retrieved 2018-09-22
  4. "BOC - 1991/061. Viernes 10 de Mayo de 1991 - 577". www.gobcan.es.
  5. Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 132–136, doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x
  6. Dracaena Draco Farm , retrieved 2011-11-03
  7. Magdefrau, K. (1975), "Das Alter der Drachenbaume auf Tenerife", Flora, 164 (4–5): 347–357, doi:10.1016/S0367-2530(17)31807-8
  8. Krawczyszyn, J.; Krawczyszyn, T. (2014). "Massive aerial roots affect growth and form of Dracaedna draco". Trees Structure and Function. 28 (3): 757–768. doi: 10.1007/s00468-014-0987-0 .
  9. "Dracaena draco". www.floradecanarias.com.
  10. "Buracas - Visit La Palma". visitlapalma.es.
  11. Porter, Lawrence J. (1988-01-01). "Flavans and proanthocyanidins". In Harborne, J. B. (ed.). The Flavonoids. Springer US. pp. 21–62. doi:10.1007/978-1-4899-2913-6_2. ISBN   9780412287701.
  12. Gupta, D.; Bleakley, B.; Gupta, R.K. (2007). "Dragon's blood: Botany, chemistry and therapeutic uses". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 115 (3): 361–380. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.10.018. PMID   18060708 . Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  13. 1 2 Baumer, Ursula; Dietemann, Patrick (2010-06-01). "Identification and differentiation of dragon's blood in works of art using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry". Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 397 (3): 1363–1376. doi:10.1007/s00216-010-3620-0. ISSN   1618-2642. PMID   20349349.
  14. Jura-Morawiec, Joanna; Tulik, Mirela (2015-05-01). "Morpho-anatomical basis of dragon's blood secretion in Dracaena draco stem". Flora - Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants. 213: 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.flora.2015.03.003.
  15. Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Dracæna draco"  . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  16. "RHS Plant Selector - Dracaena draco" . Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  17. "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 33. Retrieved 6 February 2018.