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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dracaena draco

Dracaena draco

Common Name: * Dragon Tree, Sangre de Drago
Scientific Name: * Dracaena draco
Categories: * Timber, National, Musical, Medicinal
Conservation Status: * VU





Conservation Status:


The Red Data Book of Cape Verde classifies the species as "Endangered", while it is known to be extinct in the wild on Brava and Santiago where only planted specimens exist today; it is also at severe risk of extinction on the island of S. Vicente where it is classified as Critically Endangered.

Introduction

In the Greek myth, "The Eleventh Labour of Hercules: The Apples of the Hespérides", there is mention of Landon, the hundred-headed dragon, guardian of the Garden of the Hespérides. In order to fulfill Hercules’ task to bring back three golden apples from the garden either Hercules or Atlas kills Landon the dragon, depending upon the version of the myth. Landon's red blood flowed out upon the land and from it sprung up the trees that we now know as 'Dragon Trees'.

Where is it found?

The species is found on the Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands (Sto. Antão, S. Vicente, S. Nicolau, Santiago, Fogo and Brava), Madeira and Morocco.

How do people use it?

The Guanche people of the Canary Islands used the sap in their mummification processes. In Ancient Rome Sangre de Drago was used as a colorant and across Europe it has been used as a varnish and anti-oxidant for iron tools

Why is it threatened?

Approximately five hundred years ago the fruit of the Dragon Tree was the staple food of an endemic, Dodo-like, flightless bird that is now extinct. The processing of Dragon Tree seeds through the digestive tract of this bird helped stimulate germination. It is possible that the loss of this bird species has led to a decline in naturally occurring Dragon Trees. It is becoming very rare and seed must be manually processed in order to germinate.

What conservation action is needed?

The species is protected under national law from picking and uprooting and efforts have been made on the islands to make people aware of the plant and the need for its conservation. There are ex situ collections of this species. The creation of a network of protected areas is in progress on the Cape Verde Islands but until now no protected area has been established (with the exception of some uninhabited islets). Some of those areas foreseen as protected areas will include part of the populations of Dracaena draco and Sideroxylon marginata.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

cool tree

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