Tim EntwisleNo dogs but three dragons in the land of the spaghetti western

Forget the dogs now it’s all about dragons. Most of them have been slain but like Jurassic Park they rise again, like this Gran Canaria Dragon (Tree). Thankfully these dragons grow easily from seed.

Dragon trees, Gran Canaria 3

Dragon trees, Gran Canaria

There are half a dozen different kinds of Dragon Tree, mostly in Africa and nearby islands but also one in Central America. There are more species of Dracaena, about 40 it seems, but (with Plato’s Socrates in my head) all Dragon Trees are Dracaena but not all Dracaena are Dragon Trees.

Dragon trees, Gran Canaria 1

Dragon trees, Gran Canaria

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden had one of the oldest (over 100 years) and beautifully symmetrical Dragon Trees in cultivation. I’ve posted pictures of it upright and now leaning – still old and beautiful but less symmetrical.

Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo in Gran Canaria, an island where Dragon Trees grow wild (just), has some lovely specimens but none quite matching the one in Sydney. Still for a 60-year old botanic garden they are well on their way.

Dragon trees, Gran Canaria

Dragon trees, Gran Canaria

What this botanic gardens has that Sydney does not (again I’m sounding like a Socratic logician) is two other dragon trees: Dracaena tamaranae, the Gran Canaria Dragon Tree, a species that only grows on this island (and which I apparently drove past, at some distance and out of view, yesterday) and Dracaena cinnabari (Arabian Dragon Tree) the most common source of the ‘blood’ (produced in response to fungi when the stem is damaged) used in medicine.

Dracaena cinnabari, Arabian Dragon tree

Dracaena cinnabari, Arabian Dragon tree

Dracaena tamaranae

Dracaena tamaranae

We did see a Gran Canaria Dragon Tree outside the botanic garden but that was in this town square in Tejeda, high in the mountains of central Gran Canaria. So high, in fact, that we met the southerly end of the the mar de nubes (sea of clouds). A few kilometres northward it was more nubes than nature, and it was time to descend to the coast again.

Dracaena tamaranae, town square Tejeda

Dracaena tamaranae, town square Tejeda

On the way to Tejeda, and before the mist rolled in, we were reminded why spaghetti westerns were shot on this island, something I mentioned in passing a year or so ago not knowing I would ever be here dragon hunting. Not a dragon in sight here, but perhaps behind one of the rocks, Clint Eastwood?

Near Tejeda, land of the spaghetti western

Near Tejeda, land of the spaghetti western

Like this post? Why not share it with a friend?


Tim Entwisle

About Tim Entwisle

Dr Tim Entwisle is a scientist and scientific communicator with a broad interest in plants, science and gardens, and Director & Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Previously he was Director of Conservation, Living Collections & Estates at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and prior to that, Director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens for eight years. Read Tim's full blog at Talking Plants

Comments are closed.