El Drago Milenario — The Ancient Dragon Tree

Icod de los Vinos, Tener­ife 

Size of the tree: 17 m high and 6 m trunk cir­cum­fer­ence

The dra­cae­na dra­co or Canary Islands Drag­on Tree is is a sub­trop­i­cal tree-like plant. To be found in the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira and Moroc­co. The Dra­go is the nat­ur­al sym­bol of the Island of Tener­ife. The spec­i­men called “El Dra­go Mile­nario” grow­ing at Icod de los Vinos in north­west Tener­ife is the old­est liv­ing plant of this species.

Stre­litzia flower

The trip to Icod de los Vinos was the first trip we did togeth­er with our friends Olga and Taavi after sleep­ing at the squat­ted house. We had a rent­ed car and decid­ed to see some touris­tic attrac­tions near­by 🙂

The small town has a very Icod de los Vinos is also famous for it’s beau­ti­ful­ly carved wood­en bal­conies that exist of many of it’s build­ings.

The small Plaza de La Pila is con­sid­ered by many to be the most beau­ti­ful in the Canary Islands and is sur­round­ed by some mar­vel­lous old homes — real­ly small, charm­ing place with many botan­i­cal spec­i­mens from all over the world!

The tree can be viewed for free from the square near to the 16th cen­tu­ry parish church, Igle­sia de San Mar­cos.

Dra­cae­na dra­co is a mono­cot with a tree-like growth habit cur­rent­ly placed in the aspara­gus fam­i­ly. When young it has a sin­gle stem. At about 10–15 years of age the stem stops grow­ing 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. 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 m in height but can grow much faster.

Source: http://www.majordifferences.com/2014/04/difference-between-monocot-and-dicot_24.html

Being a mono­cotyle­don, it does not dis­play any annu­al or growth rings so the age of the tree can only be esti­mat­ed by the num­ber of branch­ing points before reach­ing the canopy.

Plaza de La Pila — Some of the botan­i­cal spec­i­mens in the plaza are extreme­ly unusu­al.

Tenerife’s famous ver­sion is huge and very old — esti­mates vary from 650 years to 3,000! There are claims that it is the old­est tree on the plan­et. Its mas­sive trunk comes from the con­tri­bu­tion of clus­ters of aer­i­al roots that emerge from the bases of low­est branch­es and grow down to the soil. Descend­ing along the trunk, they cling tight­ly to the trunk, inte­grate with it and con­tribute to its radi­al growth.

The species gets its name because, when the bark or the leaves are cut, they secrete a red coloured resin, which is said to be the dried blood of drag­ons which, appar­ent­ly, has heal­ing prop­er­ties.

It’s a nice attrac­tion, although we didn’t want to pay 5€ to get inside the gar­den, where the tree is grow­ing because it’s very well vis­i­ble from the square. But there is a big­ger botan­i­cal gar­den with many oth­er species so it may be wor­thy to step inside. 🙂

Icod de los Vinos is def­i­nite­ly a place worth vis­it­ing. I enjoyed the exot­ic plants and the old square and it’s archi­tec­ture. The whole vibe of the place was so calm­ing and wel­com­ing. And the Drag­on tree — sim­ply amaz­ing to look at!

 

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