Introduction to Dragon Tree
A monocot, belonging to the Asparagus family, is a genus of over 100 plant species. The subtropical tree is indigenous to the famous Canary Islands, Madeira, and Cape Verde, besides locally found in western Morocco. The tree has its name derived from the Red Sap found in the tree, extensively referred to as Dragon Blood. Emblematic to the island of Tenerife, along with the blue chaffinch, it also harbours the oldest living plant of this species in the northwest region. The species found is called, El Drago Milenario, is a thousand-year-old dragon, with respect to the estimate held in the year 1975. It is widely known for being the largest alive tree of the family.
The tree has to itself various other varieties namely, Dracaena Marginata, Dracaena Marginata Colorama, and Dracaena Marginata Tarzan. The Dracaena Marginata owes to itself dark green leaves alongside the thin red margins of the leaf, while the Dracaena Marginata is Tricolor and has dark red margins, green leaves, in addition to an ivory stripe down in the centre of the leaf. Another variety includes Dracaena Marginata ‘Bicolor,’ which has red and green stripes.
- While the tree is in its budding stage, it has just a single stem attached to itself. After reaching the age of 10 to 15 years, the stem stops to grow and produces a first flower spike with white, lily-like perfumed flowers, followed by coral berries.
- Soon a crown of terminal buds appears and the plant starts branching out. Each branch grows for about 10–15 years and re-branches, so a mature plant has an umbrella-like habit.
- It grows slowly, requiring about ten years to reach 1.2 metres (4 ft) in height but can grow much faster if fed with equitable conditions.
- Most of the tree’s variants reach an average height of around 8 to 15 feet on reaching the maturity stage.
- Monster of Orotava, being enlisted as the biggest of all, reaching an all-round high of 21 m high with an 8m diameter trunk. However, being a monocotyledon, it does not display any annual or growth rings. Hence the age of the tree can only be estimated by the number of branching points before reaching the canopy.
Root System of Dragon Tree
The occasional transplants of Dragon Trees effectively owe to their fibrous root system. The usual pattern of the grassy development and blossom is a distinctive attribute of this plant, varying from 10 to 11 years in some and stretching up to as much as 15-20 years. The stems of the tree are firm and brawny, thus are self-supporting. Organically rich soil is their calling, as they flourish the most in these soils, besides other soils, like well-drained acidic soils, or clayey, alkaline. Despite the fact that they grow best in nutrient-rich, well-drained moist soil, the Dracaena draco is tolerable to occasional wetness.
Functioning Of Root System
- The roots of the tree emerge from the base of its low-end braches in a cluster form and grow on deeper towards the soil end. Moving down the trunk, they blend along with and thereby spread in a branched fashion.
- As large as 2-5 m high, the variant branches may break off the tree and grows on its own, having aerial roots as its base.
- These aerial roots are atypical to this tree, varying in its growth formation as well as its contribution to the aspect of genetic functioning.
- The technique used by this Dragon Tree, known as Dracoid habitus, is exceptional to the modern-day plant kingdom. The technique finds its use in stimulating ‘fractal tree’ designs.
The Variance of Root Growth in Different Seasons
Usually, this desert plants show a variation in growth patterns over the year. The variance in its root growth pattern is depicted below:
- This is generally considered the best time to sow the seeds.
- In early summers, the tree grows faster at the crown area, since it is known for larger production of leaves in successive order. Spring and summer seasons are basically the growing seasons for the tree. The leaves turn yellow, later brown, and eventually fall off.
- Winters are not a friendly season for the tree, although it still bears fruit amidst the frosty conditions, provided due care is taken. However, it could seriously damage the tree, causes leaf discolouration, besides reduction in plant growth reduction, if left out in extremely cold temperature.
- Sparse feeding is done to the plant for effective growth, less water intake is required.
Are Dragon Tree Roots Invasive?
These trees do not fall in the category of invasive species, hence preferred widely by a large audience. This house grown tree has its benefits owing to its slow growth attribute.
Factors Affecting Root Growth
The slow growing Dragon tree root system varies in growth owing to several other factors, besides the basics, like Sunlight, Soil Quality, Moisture Content. The ideal temperature ranges from 16°C – 24°C since it is a hot summer plant. Well-drained soil, with plenty of light exposure, is required besides optional repotting in case of root congestion. Propagation is effective in older plants and propagation can be done by different methods to have multiple plants.
Uses of Dragon Tree
- The red resin from the tree has several medicinal uses, which were otherwise unknown until the beginning of the 15th century. This red resin contains many mono and dimeric flavans, giving it the blood-like colour.
- The dragon’s blood was used in drawing arts, usually obtained from the species of the genus Daemonorops.
- Bestowed by the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, Dracaena draco is cultivated extensively as an ornamental tree for gardens, parks, as an indoor decoration, besides the water-conserving drought-tolerant sustainable landscape projects.
- However, the plant is witnessing a nightmare as per its conservation status. It is listed under the ‘Vulnerable’ category, as listed by the IUCN.