Species: Dragon’s blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari)
Status: Vulnerable (VU)
Interesting Fact: The dragon’s blood tree is named for its dark red resin, a substance which has been highly prized since ancient times.
Arguably the most famous and distinctive plant of the island of Socotra, the evocatively named dragon’s blood tree has a unique and bizarre appearance, its upturned, densely-packed crown having the shape of an upside-down umbrella. The bizarre shape of the dragon’s blood tree helps it to survive in often arid conditions and on mountaintops with little soil. Morning mists condense on the waxy, skyward-pointing leaves, the water then channelling down the trunk to the roots. The huge, densely packed crown also provides highly effective shade, so reducing the evaporation of any water drops that fall to the ground, and giving shade to the tree’s roots. In addition, this shading allows seedlings to survive better beneath the adult tree than in full sun, which could be why many dragon’s blood trees grow close together. Dragon’s blood trees are reported to be slow-growing and potentially long-lived.
Climate Change: The main threat to the dragon’s blood tree is thought to come from the gradual drying out of the Socotra Archipelago, a process that has been ongoing for the last few hundred years, but which may be exacerbated by global climate change. Increasing aridity is predicted to cause a 45 percent reduction in available habitat for this species by the year 2080.
For more information on climate change, visit ARKive’s climate change pages.
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author