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Dracaena (plant)

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File:Dracaena draco.jpg
Dracaena draco
Scientific classification e</small>
Unrecognized taxon (fix): Dracaena

Terminalis Medik.[1]

File:Dracaena 002.jpg
Dracaena flower.

Dracaena (/drəˈsnə/,[2] derived from the romanized form of the Ancient Greek δράκαιναdrakaina, "female dragon"), is a genus of about 40 species of trees and succulent shrubs. In the APG III classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly the family Ruscaceae).[3] It has also formerly been separated (sometimes with Cordyline) into the family Dracaenaceae or placed in the Agavaceae (now Agavoideae). The majority of the species are native to Africa, with a few in southern Asia and one in tropical Central America. The segregate genus Pleomele is now generally included in Dracaena. The genus Sanseviera 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, which is quite different from the thickening meristem found in dicotyledonous plants and is termed dracaenoid thickening by some authors. 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 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 as shrubby dracaenas. They are smaller and shrub-like, with slender stems and flexible strap-shaped leaves, and grow as understorey plants in rainforests.


There are around 110 species of Dracaena, including:[4]

Formerly placed here



Some shrubby species, such as D. deremensis, D. fragrans, D. godseffiana, D. marginata, and D. braunii, 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. braunii are widely marketed in the U.S.A. and the UK as "lucky bamboo", although only superficially resembling true bamboos.

Other uses

A bright red resin, dragon's blood, is produced 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.[citation needed]



  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named GRIN
  2. Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607. ISBN 0-376-03851-9. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Search for "Dracaena", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,, retrieved 2012-12-17 
  5. 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: 101–112. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.26.5335. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "GRIN Species Records of Dracaena". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  7. Dracaena names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database.

General references

External links