Cartas- Letters from Home
Franceschi Park
Orpet Park

Dracaena Draco - Dragon Tree

The dracaena draco, or dragon tree, was originally found only on the islands off the northwestern coast of Africa:  Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Canary Islands.  The climate in Santa Barbara, warm and arid, with plentiful sunshine and benevolent ocean breezes, is similar to the original home of this fantastic member of the lily family.


According to the United States Botanic Garden website, the dragon tree was  known in Europe as "dragon's blood",  owing to its red sap, which was used quite often for the "magical and medicinal qualities" attributed to it.

The 1940 edition of Trees of Santa Barbara, describes it as a "grotesque appearing tree",  which is quite fitting.  The  heavy and dramatic trunks of the trees are topped with clumps of sword-shaped leaves arrayed in a tangled crown that creates a dense and dark shade beneath them.  


These pictures are from Orpet Park, which is located in the foothills of Santa Barbara, in an area known to us at The Riviera.  You will find this stand of dragon trees on Pedregosa Street, near  Alameda Padre Serra.

There is another old specimen at 21 East Arrellaga.  Perhaps most famous dragon of all in Santa Barbara, and even well known internationally, is the enormous grove of dragon trees located at Lotusland in Montecito. 

The trees grow very slowly, and the Orpet Park dracaena dracos have been here a long time - for at least 75 years.   I don't know if it's always true of this specimen, or just of the dragon trees in Santa Barbara - or maybe it's just me....but standing beneath them in their heavy, dusty shade, I think it might be true, that dragon's blood does run in their veins, and that this might be a tiny magical forest.


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