Habitat and Ecology
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Dracaena draco
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dracaena draco
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Needs updating
- 1998Vulnerable (V)
- 1978Vulnerable (V)
Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands Dragon Tree or Drago is a subtropical Dragon Tree native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, and locally in western Morocco, and introduced to the Azores. This tree is the natural symbol of the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), together with the chaffinch Fringilla teydea.
The Dracaena draco tree is characterised by a single or multiple trunk growing up to 12 metres (39 ft) tall (rarely more), with a dense umbrella-shaped canopy of thick leaves. It grows slowly, requiring about ten years to reach 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) tall. Young trees remain with only a single stem; branching occurs when the tree flowers, when two side shoots at the base of the flower panicle continue the growth as a fork in the stem.
Being monocotyledonous, Dracaena draco does not display annual rings and age can only be estimated by the number of branch forking occurrences (indicating the number of flowering episodes) and measuring the frequency of flowering (less than annual). Some specimens are believed to be up to 650 years old; the oldest is growing at Icod de los Vinos in northwest Tenerife.
The recently discovered wild populations in western Morocco have been described as a separate subspecies, Dracaena draco subsp. ajgal. Some of the plants on Gran Canaria are referred to a separate species Dracaena tamaranae, which is more closely related to East African and Arabian Dracaena.
When the bark or leaves are cut they secrete a reddish resin, one of the sources of the substance known as Dragon's blood, used to stain wood, such as of Stradivarius violins. 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. It has a number of traditional medicinal uses.
Dragon's blood was also called “Indian cinnabar” by Greek writers.
- Bañares, A. et al. (1998). Dracaena draco. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Vulnerable (VU A1abcde v2.3)
- Arkive: Dracaena draco factsheet.
- Dracaena draco in Morocco (photo gallery).
- The climate requirements for Dracaena draco defined by its borders: Northernmost tree in the world, near 40°, northern Azores Islands and Southernmost dragon tree in the world, near 38°, Victoria, Australia (photos).
- Benabid, A. & Cuzin, F. (1997). Dragon tree (Dracaena draco subsp. ajgal Benabid et Cuzin) populations in Morocco: Taxonomical, biogeographical and phytosociological values. Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences Serie III Sciences de la Vie 320(3): 267-277.