The Dragon Tree of Tenerife

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Jacaranda Tree in Palm Mar

During my week on the Canary Island of Tenerife I was intrigued by the vegetation supported on the scrubby landscape and within the towns and villages, in particular the trees that grow to such a great height and those that I had heard of but never actually seen, for real.

Together with the blue chaffinch, the dragon tree (Dracaena draco) is one of Tenerife’s symbols and has inspired many a legend and tale. This red-sapped tree grows slowly but has a very long lifespan, as we can see from the dragon tree in Icod de los Vinos, which is estimated to be over 800 years old. Its flowers are white and it produces a round orangey coloured fruit. Wild dragon trees can be found at altitudes of 100 to 600 m (330 to 1,970 ft), but they are also grown for decorative purposes in some of Tenerife’s squares and gardens. The medicinal properties of its sap, which can also be used as a form of dye, caused the population of dragon trees to wane in Tenerife years ago, but it has been slowly recovering in recent decades.“[source]

dragon tree las galletas

Dragon Tree Las Galletas

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Dragon Palms in La Laguna

The most famous and the oldest dragon tree on Tenerife is located in the town of Icod de los Vinos on the islands northern side. The tree is believed to have been used by the native Guanche people as a place to hold important meetings.

This tree is reputedly over 1000 years old and is known as El Drago Milenario (The Thousand Year Old Dragon), although these claims are unsubstantiated as the trees are difficult to age; this mighty tree stands 22m high with a diameter of 22m.

In 1993 a road that ran a few meters from the tree was rerouted, and the tree now stands protected in its own park setting. The city council has tried twice to have to tree listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 and 2011.” [source]

old dragon tree

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8 comments on “The Dragon Tree of Tenerife

  1. Your posts on Tenerife have been especially wonderful! thank you so much.

  2. These trees are amazing.

  3. Barbara says:

    what a nice diary of our week in Tenerife!

  4. Sarah Wrightson says:

    “Wow, just wow,” is my open-mouthed response. Thank you.

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