The Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco L.) is a monocotyledon subtropical plant, belonging to the Agavoideae family, endemic to the Canary Islands.
Although it is a shrubby plant can reach 20 meters in height.
The trunk is dark grey and divides into branches that end in groups of leathery lanceolate leaves, green in colour, arranged to form a umbrella shape.
The fruits, of 1-1.5 cm of size, are orange, fleshy and rounded, while the flowers are greenish-white.
Since this is a slow-growing plant, it can take 10 years to reach one meter in height.
Dracaena draco as other monocotyledons do not show the annual rings. So the age can only be estimated based on the number of subdivisions of the branches.
It seems like the oldest examples could be a thousand years old. Probably the oldest living Dragon tree, is located in the north -west of Tenerife at Icod de los Vinos.
The Dragon Tree is endemic to the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands, in the Canary unfortunately the population is reduced to a few hundred examples, elsewhere wild specimens are even rarer.
In Morocco, the mountains of the Anti – Atlas was identified a subspecies, with a colony of several thousand specimens.
The classification of this species is complex.
According to the traditional classification kind Dracaena is part of the family Agavoideae, Liliales order while the classification APG III, thanks to genetic studies, places like the kind Dracaenanella subfamily Nolinoidea of Asparagaceae ( Asparagales order).
Indigenous peoples of the Canaries (Guanches), considered Magic the Dragon Tree. Perhaps due to the fact that if it affects the cortex , incision gushes a resin that when oxidized assumes a reddish colour, for this reason known as dragon’s blood, very sought-after in ancient times.
The dragon’s blood was already known at the time of the Romans, who used it as a dye in the Middle Ages and was much sought-after by those who, like magicians and alchemists believed in it’s the therapeutic virtues. In the eighteenth century it was also used as a mordant for mahogany.
In Tenerife in Icod de los Vinos, you can see the “Millennial Dragon” which is a tourist attraction. It is considered by someone ultra millennial, other say may have even 3000 years .
In addition at the Monte Paradiso within the Archaeological Park of the ancient theatre of Taormina, it was identified a spontaneous population of about one hundred specimens of which some secular.
See also Flora of Canary Island