San Marcos Growers LogoSan Marcos Growers
New User
Wholesale Login
Enter Password
Home Products Purchase Gardens About Us Resources Contact Us
Nursery Closure
Search Utilities
Plant Database
Search Plant Name
Detail Search Avanced Search Go Button
Search by size, origins,
details, cultural needs
Website Search Search Website GO button
Search for any word
Site Map
Retail Locator
Plant Listings


  for MAY

Natives at San Marcos Growers
Succulents at San Marcos Growers
 Weather Station

Products > Dracaena draco
Dracaena draco - Dragon Tree
Image of Dracaena draco
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Canary Islands (Atlantic Ocean)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Greenish White
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Asparagus draco]
Height: 15-25 feet
Width: 15-25 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Dracaena draco (Dragon Tree) - An attractive and an interesting evergreen succulent tree that is used in cooler climates as a house plant, but if planted in the ground in our near frost free climate will grow to a massive tall and broad tree 25 feet tall and as wide and, with great age, even larger - one of the tallest ever recorded was over 70 feet tall. Old specimens have a thick gray barked trunk and at the terminal ends of the smooth barked thick branches it holds rosette clusters of 2 foot long by 1 1/2-inch-wide pliable sword-shaped blue-green leaves. In later spring into early summer appear the small fragrant greenish-white flowers borne on in a 2-foot-long inflorescence of branching panicles that are followed by orange berries. This plant remains unbranched until it flowers or is otherwise damaged and then produces two or more large heavy branches on opposite sides of the inflorescence. When the bark is cut or bruised the sap flows as a reddish colored resin from the flavonoids found in the sap. This resin, one of the sources of a substance known as Dragon's blood can be used to stain wood, though the dragon's blood resin highly prized in ancient time actually came from another species, Dracaena cinnabari from the island of Socotra.

Plant in full sun or part shade. Water infrequently and deeply - do not allow the root zone to remain wet as this is the easiest way to kill this plant. It is hardy to short duration temperatures down to about 20 F - our tree in front of the nursery had foliage damaged but no lasting damage our in our 1990 freeze at 18 F. This strikingly exotic and otherworldly appearing tree is tough and drought tolerant tree, tolerating extreme heat, winds and salt spray, and its flowers also are attractive to honeybees and other insects.

Dracaena draco is native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, and western Morocco and is the natural symbol of the island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. It is on Tenerife where one can find the "Drago Milenario" (Thousand Year old Draco), a famous giant dragon tree located in Parque del Drago in Northern Tenerife that is believed by many people to be over a thousand years old, but others estimate it to be a bit younger. Since monocots such at this do not form growth rings, the actual age of the plant is unknown, though the tree was declared a national monument in 1917. This species is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) List of Threatened Species Red List as Vulnerable (A1a-e) meaning that it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future for numerous reasons (loss of habitat, exploitation, competition etc.).

The name Dracaena comes from the Latin word 'draco', meaning "dragon" that was already used for the specific epithet for this same plant when first described. This new name was ascribed by Linnaeus in 1767 when he renamed the plant originally called Asparagus draco. This species received the coveted Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 2002. We have been growing this plant since 1982 and have a specimen planted in 1985 along the street at our nursery entrance. Though not included on most poisonous plant lists, some references claim that seed of the Dracaena draco is poisonous, while others such as on the California Poison Control System, list it as safe plant. Since this contradictory information exists, we err on the side of caution, and list it as poisonous and recommend the seeds not be eaten, though we cannot verify the validity of this or what the poisonous active ingredient would be.

We also have in our nursery collection several other arborescent Dracaena as well as low branched Dracaena draco plants grown from seed collected in the Azores, where some claim it was introduced, but botanical explorer John Lavranos (who supplied the seed of our plants) long maintained that they were native to this archipelago of the mid North Atlantic - for more tidbits about these amazing plants and for pictures of the large Dragon Trees of Santa Barbara and elsewhere, see our Dragon Tree Page

This information about Dracaena draco displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.