The Welsh dragon: rare tree returns to the Valleys


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The Independent Online

A tree facing extinction in its native Canary Islands has flowered in Wales for the first time in 25 years.

The dragon tree – Dracaena draco – has produced its flower spike at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire. Botanists believe the plant has bloomed thanks to the recent hot weather.

Horticulturist Marilla Burgess said the flower spike could grow to four feet tall and will produce small white or yellow flowers.

“It’s very exciting. It wouldn’t normally flower in our climate as it is a good bit cooler than the Canaries, but the recent hot spell appears to have triggered this rather historic, middle-aged flowering,” she added.

Wild dragon trees have been in decline for a long time. Dracaena draco is native to the Canaries and although the species is present in five of its seven islands, there are only a few hundred remaining.

When its bark or leaves are cut they secrete a reddish resin – one of the sources of the substance known as dragon’s blood, used to stain wood such as that of Stradivarius violins.