Dracaena (//, derived from the romanized form of the Ancient Greek δράκαινα – drakaina, "female dragon"), is a genus of about 40 species of trees and succulent shrubs. In the APG III classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly the family Ruscaceae). It has also formerly been separated (sometimes with Cordyline) into the family Dracaenaceae or placed in the Agavaceae (now Agavoideae). The majority of the species are native to Africa, with a few in southern Asia and one in tropical Central America. The segregate genus Pleomele is now generally included in Dracaena. The genus Sanseviera is closely related, and has recently been synonymized under Dracaena in the Kubitzki system.
Species of Dracaena have a secondary thickening meristem in their trunk, which is quite different from the thickening meristem found in dicotyledonous plants and is termed dracaenoid thickening by some authors. This characteristic is shared with members of the Agavoideae and Xanthorrhoeoideae among other members of the Asparagales.
D. americana, D. arborea, D. cinnabari, D. draco, D. ombet, and D. tamaranae are commonly known as dragon trees and grow in arid semi-desert areas. They are tree-sized with stout trunks and stiff, broad-based leaves. The remaining species are known collectively as shrubby dracaenas. They are smaller and shrub-like, with slender stems and flexible strap-shaped leaves, and grow as understorey plants in rainforests.
There are around 110 species of Dracaena, including:
- Dracaena afromontana – Afromontane dragon tree
- Dracaena americana – Central America dragon tree
- Dracaena aletriformis (Haw.) Bos)
- Dracaena arborea – tree dracaena
- Dracaena aubryana Brongn. ex E.Morren (syn. D. thalioides)
- Dracaena bicolor Hook.
- Dracaena braunii Engl. – ribbon dracaena, marketed as "lucky bamboo"
- Dracaena camerooniana Baker
- Dracaena cincta
- Dracaena cinnabari Balf.f. – Socotra dragon tree
- Dracaena concinna Kunth
- Dracaena draco (L.) L. – Canary Islands dragon tree
- Dracaena elliptica
- Dracaena fragrans (L.) Ker Gawl. (syn. D. deremensis) – striped dracaena, compact dracaena, corn plant, cornstalk dracaena
- Dracaena goldieana W.Bull
- Dracaena hookeriana
- Dracaena kaweesakii Wilkin & Suksathan
- Dracaena mannii
- Dracaena marginata Lam. – red-edged dracaena or Madagascar dragon tree: see Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia
- Dracaena marmorata
- Dracaena ombet – Gabal Elba dragon tree
- Dracaena phrynioides
- Dracaena reflexa Lam. – Pleomele dracaena or "Song of India"
- Dracaena serrulata Baker – Yemen dragon tree
- Dracaena surculosa Lindl. – spotted or gold dust dracaena. Formerly D. godseffiana
- Dracaena tamaranae – Gran Canaria dragon tree
- Dracaena umbraculifera Jacq.
Formerly placed here
- Asparagus asparagoides (L.) Druce (as D. medeoloides L.f.)
- Cordyline australis (G.Forst.) Endl. (as D. australis G.Forst.)
- Cordyline fruticosa (L.) A.Chev. (as D. terminalis Lam.)
- Cordyline indivisa (G.Forst.) Steud. (as D. indivisa G.Forst.)
- Cordyline obtecta (Graham) Baker (as D. obtecta Graham)
- Cordyline stricta (Sims) Endl. (as D. stricta Sims)
- Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC. (as D. ensifolia L.)
- Liriope graminifolia (L.) Baker (as D. graminifolia L.)
- Lomandra filiformis (Thunb.) Britten (as D. filiformis Thunb.)
Some shrubby species, such as D. deremensis, D. fragrans, D. godseffiana, D. marginata, and D. braunii, are popular as houseplants. Many of these are toxic to pets, though not humans, according to the ASPCA among others. Rooted stem cuttings of D. braunii are widely marketed in the U.S.A. and the UK as "lucky bamboo", although only superficially resembling true bamboos.
A bright red resin, dragon's blood, is produced from D. draco and, in ancient times, from D. cinnabari. Modern dragon's blood is however more likely to be from the unrelated Daemonorops rattan palms.
- "Genus: Dracaena Vand. ex L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607. ISBN 0-376-03851-9.
- Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009). "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 132–136. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x.
- Search for "Dracaena", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-12-17
- Paul Wilkin, Piyakaset Suksathan, Kaweesak Keeratikiat, Peter van Welzen & Justyna Wiland-Szymanska (2013). "A new species from Thailand and Burma, Dracaena kaweesakii Wilkin & Suksathan (Asparagaceae subfamily Nolinoideae)". PhytoKeys 26: 101–112. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.26.5335.
- "GRIN Species Records of Dracaena". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- Dracaena names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database.
- Waterhouse, J. T. (1987). "The phylogenetic significance of Dracaena-type growth". Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 109: 129–128.