Prized as a horticultural curiosity, the dragon tree is long-lived and slow-growing. The succulent tree begins life with a smooth, grey, solitary, cylindrical trunk. On top is a terminal rosette of sword-shaped leaves blue-green in color. As the tree ages, the trunk becomes rough with scaly bark and dramatically flares from the base. Once reproductive maturity is reached (about ten years), two upright branches are born on either side greenish-white inflorescence. Orange-colored berries containing viable seeds appear after flowering producing a spectacular display. The branching multiplies with each flowering season creating an umbrella-shaped canopy.
Age is difficult to determine as it has no growth rings; however, it can be estimated by counting the branches. The dragon tree is listed as endangered by the ICUN as natural populations have continued to decline over the years. The common name comes from the red sap that oozes when the tree is cut. In the past, the sap, a.k.a. ‘dragons blood,’ was used medicinally and as embalming fluid. In more modern times, the sap is used for varnish, especially for violins. The dragon tree has been cultivated in Hawaiʻi before 1825, with no naturalization records or reports of invasiveness. It’s a well-behaved, pono tree.
- Container plant
- Indoor plant
- No dangers