Dracaena fragrans

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Dracaena fragrans
Starr 031209-0040 Dracaena fragrans.jpg
Cultivated plant in Hawaii
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Dracaena
Species: D. fragrans
Binomial name
Dracaena fragrans
(L.) Ker Gawl.

Dracaena fragrans (cornstalk dracaena) is a flowering plant species that is native throughout tropical Africa, from Sudan south to Mozambique, west to Côte d'Ivoire and southwest to Angola, growing in upland regions at 600–2,250 m (1,970–7,380 ft) altitude.[1][2]

Description[edit]

Foliage and flowers
Fruit

Dracaena fragrans is a slow growing shrub, usually multistemmed at the base, mature specimens reaching 15 m (49 ft) or more tall with a narrow crown of usually slender erect branches. Stems may reach up to 30 cm (12 in) diameter on old plants; in forest habitats they may become horizontal with erect side branches. Young plants have a single unbranched stem with a rosette of leaves until the growing tip flowers or is damaged, after which it branches, producing two or more new stems; thereafter, branching increases with subsequent flowering episodes.[1][3]

The leaves are glossy green, lanceolate, 20–150 cm (7.9–59.1 in) long and 2–12 cm (0.79–4.72 in) wide; small leaves are erect to spreading, and larger leaves usually drooping under their weight. The flowers are produced in panicles 15–160 cm (5.9–63.0 in) long, the individual flowers are 2.5 cm (0.98 in) diameter, with a six-lobed corolla, pink at first, opening white with a fine red or purple central line on each of the 7–12 mm (0.28–0.47 in) lobes; they are highly fragrant, and popular with pollinating insects. The fruit is an orange-red berry 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter, containing several seeds.[1][3]

Cultivation and use[edit]

Inflorescence of Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'
Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana' in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

In Africa, D. fragrans is commonly grown as a hedge plant.[1] It is suited to frost-free climates and USDA Hardiness zones 10-11. Elsewhere, it is primarily popular as a houseplant and valued for its tolerance of a wide range of indoor conditions from full light to low light.[3] It is also very tolerant of neglect. The NASA Clean Air Study indicated that the plant aided removal of indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.[4] The plant is known as "masale" to the Chagga people of Tanzania, who regard it as holy.[5]

Several cultivars have variegated foliage. 'Massangeana', also commonly denominated "Mass Cane", has a bright yellow central stripe on the foliage. 'Compacta' is more compact and suitable for indoor cultivation. Other popular cultivars include 'Janet Craig', 'Lemon Lime', and 'Warneckei' ('Warneckii'), which are often sold under the synonym D. deremensis.[3]

The cultivars 'Lemon Lime'[6] and 'Warneckei' ('Warneckii')[7] bear the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

In cultivation in the Neotropics, a few generalist hummingbird species like the sapphire-spangled emerald (Amazilia lactea) visit the flowers.[8]

Propagation[edit]

Dracaena fragrans is propagated by cutting segments of old stems 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, drying them, and then inserting them into moist sand until they root. New growth, typically being two or three shoots, comes from old foliar scars at the top of the stem.

Etymology and synonymy[edit]

The species name refers to the fragrant flowers, while the English name derives from a perceived resemblance of the stem to a corn (Zea mays) stalk. Synonyms include Aletris fragrans L. (basionym), Cordyline fragrans (L.) Planch., Pleomele fragrans (L.) Salisb., Sansevieria fragrans (L.) Jacq., Dracaena deremensis Engl., Dracaena smithii Hook.f., and Dracaena ugandensis Baker.[1][2] Other English names include striped dracaena (for variegated cultivars), corn plant (for the cultivar 'Massangeana';[3]), Chinese money tree, and fortune plant.[citation needed]

The plant is known as "බෝතල් ගස් - bothal gas" (meaning "bottle tree") in Sinhala, in Sri Lanka.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e JSTOR Plant Science: Dracaena fragrans
  2. ^ a b Germplasm Resources Information Network: Dracaena fragrans
  3. ^ a b c d e Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening 2: 96. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  4. ^ Wolverton, B. C. 1996. How to Grow Fresh Air. New York: Penguin Books.
  5. ^ Stahl, Kathleen Mary (1964). History of the Chagga people of Kilimanjaro. Mouton. p. 60. OCLC 1382652. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Dracaena fragrans (Deremensis Group) 'Lemon Lime'". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Dracaena fragrans (Deremensis Group) 'Warneckii'". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Baza Mendonça, Luciana & dos Anjos, Luiz. (2005). Beija-flores (Aves, Trochilidae) e seus recursos florais em uma área urbana do Sul do Brasil [Hummingbirds (Aves, Trochilidae) and their flowers in an urban area of southern Brazil]. [Portuguese with English abstract] Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 22 (1): 51–59. doi:10.1590/S0101-81752005000100007 PDF fulltext

External links[edit]