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Dracaena (plant)

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Dracaena (/drəˈsnə/[2] is a genus of about 120 species of trees and succulent shrubs.[3] In the APG IV classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly the family Ruscaceae).[4][5] It has also formerly been separated (sometimes with Cordyline) into the family Dracaenaceae or placed in the Agavaceae (now Agavoideae).

Dracaena draco.jpg
Dracaena draco
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Dracaena
Vand. ex L.[1]

Terminalis Medik.[1]

The name dracaena is derived from the romanized form of the Ancient Greek δράκαιναdrakaina, "female dragon".[citation needed]

The majority of the species are native to Africa, with a few in southern Asia through to northern Australia with two species in tropical Central America. The segregate genus Pleomele is now generally included in Dracaena. The genus Sansevieria is closely related, and has recently been synonymized under Dracaena in the Kubitzki system.


Species of Dracaena have a secondary thickening meristem in their trunk, termed Dracaenoid thickening by some authors,[citation needed] which is quite different from the thickening meristem found in dicotyledonous plants. This characteristic is shared with members of the Agavoideae and Xanthorrhoeoideae among other members of the Asparagales.

D. americana, D. arborea, D. cinnabari, D. draco, D. ombet, and D. tamaranae are commonly known[by whom?] as dragon trees and grow in arid semi-desert areas. They are tree-sized with stout trunks and stiff, broad-based leaves. The remaining species are known collectively[by whom?] as shrubby dracaenas. They are smaller and shrub-like, with slender stems and flexible strap-shaped leaves, and grow as understorey plants in rainforests.

Many species of Dracaena are kept as houseplants due to tolerance of lower light and sparse watering.


There are around 110 species of Dracaena, including:[6]

Formerly regarded as dracaenaEdit



Some shrubby species, such as D. fragrans, D. surculosa, D. marginata, and D. sanderiana, are popular as houseplants. Many of these are toxic to pets, though not humans, according to the ASPCA among others. Rooted stem cuttings of D. sanderiana are widely marketed[by whom?] in Australia, the U.S.A. and the UK as "lucky bamboo", although only superficially resembling true bamboos.


A naturally occurring bright red resin, dragon's blood, is collected from D. draco and, in ancient times, from D. cinnabari. Modern dragon's blood is however more likely to be from the unrelated Daemonorops rattan palms.[13]. It also has a social functions in marking graves, sacred sites and farm plots in many African societies[14]



  1. ^ a b "Genus: Dracaena Vand. ex L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-19. Archived from the original on 2010-05-30. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607. ISBN 978-0-376-03851-7.
  3. ^ "Search results — the Plant List".
  4. ^ Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009). "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 132–136. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x.
  5. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2016). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 181 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1111/boj.12385.
  6. ^ Search for "Dracaena", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-12-17
  7. ^ Engl., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. (1902). "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Kew Gardens. Retrieved 30 Jan 2016.
  8. ^ exoten-garten (2009). "Dracaena ellenbeckiana (Kedong Dracaena)". Retrieved 30 Jan 2016.
  9. ^ Dave's Garden (2005). "Kedong Dracaena - Dracaena ellenbeckiana". Dave's Garden. Retrieved 30 Jan 2016.
  10. ^ Paul Wilkin; Piyakaset Suksathan; Kaweesak Keeratikiat; Peter van Welzen; Justyna Wiland-Szymanska (2013). "A new species from Thailand and Burma, Dracaena kaweesakii Wilkin & Suksathan (Asparagaceae subfamily Nolinoideae)". PhytoKeys. 26 (26): 101–112. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.26.5335. PMC 3817424. PMID 24194672.
  11. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Dracaena". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-02-07.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Dracaena names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database.
  13. ^ "Fruit as source of red resin exuded between scales, used medicinally and as a dye (one source of "dragon's blood"): Daemonorops didymophylla; Daemonorops draco; Daemonorops maculata; Daemonorops micrantha; Daemonorops propinqua; Daemonorops rubra" Terry C.H. Sunderland and John Dransfield. Species Profiles. Ratans.
  14. ^ Sheridan M. 2008. Tanzanian ritual perimetrics and African landscapes: the case of Dracaena. International Journal of African Historical Studies 41 (3): 491–521.

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