Dragon’s Blood Tree
Dragon's Blood Tree is a member of the Dracaenaceae family, is a native to the Madeira, Cape Verde and Canary Island groups, off the north-west coast of Africa. Only a few individuals of this striking tree can be found growing naturally and these are mainly on the islands of Tenerife and La Palma, growing in dry bush at the low elevations of the islands’ rocky mountain ranges.
Growing to a height of about nine metres, the trunk of the dragon’s blood tree is upright with a multi-branched canopy of prickly, stiff grey leaves which can spread across an area of about 3.5 metres. Following a springtime flush of discreet sweet-smelling, greenish-white flowers, the tree produces pea-sized, bright-orange and very fleshy berries.
The tree is extremely slow growing, taking 5–10 years to reach just 1.5 metres, when it begins to flower. The flowering causes the stem to branch, resulting in a highly divided tree which can be aged according to the number of branches. The oldest known individual in the world is thought to be more than 650 years old.
The name of the dragon’s blood tree is steeped in mythical origins. In Greek mythology, Hercules had to bring back three golden apples from the garden of Hesperides which was guarded by Landon, the hundred-headed dragon.
In his quest, Hercules killed Landon and from his blood which flowed across the land, sprouted ‘dragon’ trees. When cut, the tree exudes ‘dragon’s blood’, a red sap which is still used today in furniture polishes and resins.
Where can the Dragon's Blood Tree be seen in the Parklands?
Two specimen of Dracaena draco can be seen in Frog Hollow, Centennial Park, between the Centennial Parklands Café and Busbys Pond. The larger specimen of the two is approximately 30–40 years old and features as the centrepiece of one of the circular display beds.
Centennial Parklands Horticulturists have successfully potted a number of seedlings which have germinated from the fallen fruit of this plant.