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DRACAENA draco

Image of Dracaena draco

Mark A. Miller

Family

Agavaceae

Botanical Name

DRACAENA draco

Plant Common Name

Dragon Tree

General Description

Named "dragon’s blood" in ancient times due to its peculiar red sap, this tropical succulent tree is most unusual. It is native to just a small area on the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. Plants there withstand incredible drought and high humidity. In habitat they grow to a great age.

When young, the dragon tree resembles other dracaenas and has rosettes of strap-like green leaves. In time a single trunk arises and branches into a broad umbrella-like head with clusters of foliage. Plants bloom only after they reach maturity with white fluffy flowers that mature to bright red-orange fruit.

This tree grows best along the California coast where conditions are exceptionally mild and rainfall is rare in the summer months. This preference limits its success in the rainy southeast and Gulf Coast. Dragon trees also struggle in the dry air of inland deserts. Like other succulents it is vulnerable to poorly drained soils, but in sand or sloping ground it will grow quickly with adequate irrigation. Young plants can be used as foliage accents, and older specimens are best planted as focal or specimen plants.

This tree's crystallized sap was collected by European traders and sold as actual dragon’s blood for folk medicine and alchemy in the middle ages.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    15'-20' / 4.6m - 6.1m

  • Width

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    Canary Islands

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Red, Orange

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No