Dracaena L.

John Conran

From the ancient Greek meaning female dragon as the sap when thickened was said to be like dragon’s blood.

Plants herbaceous or woody, sometimes trees (D. draco) usually with orange roots. Leaves stalked or stalkless often variegated green, white, silver or yellow and sometimes with red margins, always with parallel venation. Flowers small, stalkless or with short stalks usually opening at night, fragrant. Perianth lobes 6, united into a tube at the base, the lobes spreading or bent back. Stamens 6 at the perianth mouth. Ovary 3-chambered, each chamber with 1 ovule. Fruit a berry with 1-3 seeds.

All species are tropical and, in the south, tend to be grown as indoor plants, with the exception of D. draco (L.) L., Dragon Tree, from the Canary Islands which will survive cooler climates and can be seen in old botanical gardens and specialist collections. Formerly placed in the family Agavaceae or Dracaenaceae.

About 60 species from the Old World with 1 from C America and 1 from Cuba.

Stem cuttings.

The red resin from Dracaena draco, Dragon's Blood Tree, is used as a varnish and for photoengraving.

Leaf veins parallel or obscure; flowers small; ovary superior with 1 ovule per ovary chamber.

Source: Conran, J. (2005). Dracaena. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Lilianae
order      Asparagales
family       Asparagaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Dracaena fragrans (L.) Ker Gawl.