El Drago Milenario – The Ancient Dragon Tree
Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!