The name of this beautiful tree has mythical origins: for his 11th labor, Hercules had to bring back three golden apples from the garden of the Hespérides, which is guarded by Landon, the hundred-headed dragon. Hercules killed Landon and his blood flowed out over the land, which began to sprout ‘dragon’ trees. The tree exudes dragon’s blood, a red sap when cut.
The dragon tree is extremely slow-growing, taking 8 to 11 years to reach just 2 to 3 feet, when it begins to flower. Flowering occurs almost simultaneously on the Canary Islands, taking place only every 15 years. The flowering causes the stem to branch, resulting in a highly branched tree which can be aged according to the number of branches.
The dragon tree lives in dry region. A few hundred trees are found on five of the seven Canary Islands, in addition to two on Madeira Island, Portugal and populations in Cape Verde, Morocco and about 50 to 80 trees on the Azorean Islands. On Madeira and in the Azores, the plant grows in steep coastal cliffs usually below 200m altitude, while in the Canaries, it grows in inaccessible cliffs from 100 to 600m altitude, and in Morocco and Cabo Verde, it grows high in the mountains.