Dragon’s Blood Tree
Distribution and habitat
Subtropical tree-like plant native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira and western Morocco. Today it only exists in the Canary Islands and a few botanical gardens and nurseries. This plant is a living fossil, spreading 20 million years ago as part of an ancient flora that is now extinct.
When young it has a single stem. At about 10-15 years of age it 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. It is slow growing requiring about 10 years to reach over a metre. Leaf scars resemble the skin of a dinosaur. When wounded, the tree oozes a deep red sap known as dragon blood.
Its distinct shape allows the long waxy leaves to transport water from the leaves down to the branches and trunk to the roots. This ensures survival in its hot, dry climate.
“Dragon's blood” has a number of traditional medical uses. In ancient times the sap was used for embalming and alchemy. The sap is mixed with another compound to make the red lustre varnish used to coat violins.
The sap is an indispensable first aid item with medicinal benefits to fight infection and inflammation. It is also used in the cosmetic industry.
Where to see the Dragon’s Blood Tree in Centennial Parklands.