Dracaena (plant)

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Dracaena draco.jpg
Dracaena draco in Icod de los Vinos
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Dracaena
Vand. ex L.[1]
  • Acyntha Medik.
  • Chrysodracon P.L.Lu & Morden
  • Draco Crantz
  • Drakaina Raf.
  • Nemampsis Raf.
  • Oedera Crantz
  • Pleomele Salisb.
  • Salmia Cav.
  • Sanseverinia Petagna
  • Sansevieria Thunb.
  • Stoerkia Crantz
  • Terminalis Medik.

Dracaena (/drəˈsnə/[2]) is a genus of about 120 species of trees and succulent shrubs.[3] The formerly accepted genera Pleomele and Sansevieria are now included in Dracaena. In the APG IV classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae,[4] subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly the family Ruscaceae).[5][6] It has also formerly been separated (sometimes with Cordyline) into the family Dracaenaceae or placed in the Agavaceae (now Agavoideae).

The name dracaena is derived from the romanized form of the Ancient Greek δράκαιναdrakaina, "female dragon".[7]

The majority of the species are native to Africa, southern Asia through to northern Australia, with two species in tropical Central America.


Species of Dracaena have a secondary thickening meristem in their trunk, termed Dracaenoid thickening by some authors,[citation needed] which is quite different from the thickening meristem found in dicotyledonous plants. This characteristic is shared with members of the Agavoideae and Xanthorrhoeoideae among other members of the Asparagales.

Dracaena species can be classified in two growth types: treelike dracaenas (Dracaena fragrans, Dracaena draco, Dracaena cinnabari), which have aboveground stems that branch from nodes after flowering, or if the growth tip is severed, and rhizomatous dracaenas (Dracaena trifasciata, Dracaena angolensis), which have underground rhizomes and leaves on the surface (ranging from straplike to cylindrical).[citation needed]

Many species of Dracaena are kept as houseplants due to tolerance of lower light and sparse watering.[8]


Plants of the World Online currently includes:[9]

Formerly regarded as dracaena[edit]



Some shrubby species, such as D. fragrans, D. surculosa, D. marginata, and D. sanderiana, are popular as houseplants. Many of these are toxic to pets, though not humans, according to the ASPCA among others. Rooted stem cuttings of D. sanderiana are sold as "lucky bamboo", although only superficially resembling true bamboos.

Dracaena houseplants like humidity and moderate watering. They can tolerate periods of drought but the tips of the leaves may turn brown.[15] Leaves at the base will naturally yellow and drop off, leaving growth at the top and a bare stem.[15] Dracaena are vulnerable to mealybugs and scale insects.[15]


A naturally occurring bright red resin, dragon's blood, is collected from D. draco and, in ancient times, from D. cinnabari. Modern dragon's blood is however more likely to be from the unrelated Daemonorops rattan palms.[a] It also has social functions in marking graves, sacred sites and farm plots in many African societies[17]



  1. ^ Fruit as source of red resin exuded between scales, used medicinally and as a dye (one source of "dragon's blood"): Daemonorops didymophylla; Daemonorops draco; Daemonorops maculata; Daemonorops micrantha; Daemonorops propinqua; Daemonorops rubra[16]


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Dracaena Vand. ex L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-19. Archived from the original on 2010-05-30. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book. Sunset Publishing Corporation. 1995. ISBN 978-0-376-03851-7.
  3. ^ "Dracaena". theplantlist.org. 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  4. ^ Coombes 2012, p. 127.
  5. ^ Chase, Reveal & Fay 2009, pp. 132–136.
  6. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2016, pp. 1–20.
  7. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  8. ^ James Wong (2021-05-09). "Fancy a plant that will grow old with you?". the Guardian. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  9. ^ "Dracaena Vand. ex L." Plants of the World Online. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Dracaena ellenbeckiana". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  11. ^ "Dracaena ellenbeckiana (Kedong Dracaena)". exoten-garten.de.tl (in German). 2009. Retrieved 30 Jan 2016.
  12. ^ "Kedong Dracaena - Dracaena ellenbeckiana". Dave's Garden. 2005. Retrieved 30 Jan 2016.
  13. ^ Wilkin et al. 2013, pp. 101–112.
  14. ^ "Dracaena names". Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  15. ^ a b c Peerless, Veronica (2017). How Not to Kill Your Houseplant. DK Penguin Random House. pp. 68–69.
  16. ^ Sunderland & Dransfield 2002.
  17. ^ Sheridan 2008, pp. 491–521.


Further reading[edit]

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