Gran Canaria dragon tree
Gran Canaria dragon tree (Eng); drago de Gran Canaria (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? This dragon tree, described in 1998, is only found on the most inaccessible crags in Gran Canaria.
Plant of tree-like form that reaches 6-10 m in height, although it is not woody. Like the Canary Islands dragon tree (Dracaena draco), it only branches after flowering, so individuals with no branches have not yet reached sexual maturity. The branches of the Gran Canaria dragon tree are shorter and stumpier than those of their cousin; in addition, the main branches are divided into three from the apex (trichotomous branching), whereas those of the Canary Islands dragon tree always separate into two. The bark tends to be yellowish greyish and is somewhat shiny and almost smooth. The leaves are simple, narrow, sword-shaped, 40-80 cm long and up to 4.5 cm wide, striated to some degree on the underside, and with an entire margin. They can be differentiated from those of the Canary Islands dragon tree as they are more rigid and channelled, i.e., they are not flat and clearly curve towards the upper side in a u-shape. They are joined to the trunk or branches by means of a very wide, arched, reddish brown sheath, and therefore lack leaf stalks. During the summer they produce inflorescences up to 80-100 cm in length. They are highly branching and have numerous flowers. The flowers are hermaphroditic, greenish white in colour, and have very short tubes. The fruits are small, fleshy balls that are orangey or reddish when ripe. In general, they contain single a seed of up to 7 mm in diameter.
This plant grows in the island's thermophilous (warm) forest fringe, mainly between altitudes of 300 and 1000 m. It prefers shady, wet zones, and becomes established on escarpments, rocky ledges, platforms, and cracks or fissures in high and practically inaccessible crags. It lives with junipers, olive trees and in rockrose scrubland (thermophilous communities), and, sometimes, with other species of cardonal-tabaibal xerophilic scrubland, as well as in pine forests.
This extremely rare species is native to Gran Canaria and currently grows on the midslopes, or medianías, in the southwest of the island, from the Amurga cliffs in Barranco de Fataga to Mesa del Junquillo in Barranco de la Aldea.