Dragon tree "El Drago Milenario"
The drago, part of the asparagus family, is playing an important role within the flora of Tenerife. It is a monocot, however, due to its tree-like growth with a distinctive grey stem, the half a metre long ensiform leaves and the brachiate limbs that form an umbrella-shaped tree top of about 20 metres, it is considered to be a real tree. It is extremely seldom to experience the white blossoms of this plant because the drago is only blooming about every 15 years in summer. Afterwards it develops bright orange berries.
Speciality of the drago
The drago is endemic in the northern African area, i. e. it is only growing on the archipelago of the Canary Islands as well as on Madeira, the Cape Verde islands and in Morocco. In the open coutryside of Tenerife dragos are difficult to reach, due to their location in rocky landscapes and canyons. Dragos as crop plants are more likely.
Dragon trees can reach one of the highest lifespans of living species in flora and fauna. In Icod de los Vinos, in the north of Tenerife, people are proud of one of these rare plants with good reason: It is said that it is 1.000 years old. This is why the famous tree, called "Drago Milenario" is considered a living fossil. Also on other Canary Islands - La Palma and Gran Canary - old dragon tree populations can be seen.
The legend of the dragon tree
Many legends are centered around the naming "Dragon tree". A legend tells of the colourless resin, which is oozed when the stem gets hurt. It was used for medical reasons by the natives of Tenerife, has a gummi elaticum-like texture and turns blood red when it has contact with air. Out of this characteristic the names "dragon blood" and "dragon tears" developed. Also the special ability of the tree to sprout out of broken off germinals, similar to the chopped off head of a dragon in fairy tales, is an explanation for the naming of the dragon tree.