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Extinction Watch: Dragon blood tree, a magical cure-all

Scientific classification: Dracaena cinnabari

The dragon blood tree is a unique tree native to the Socotra archipelago, part of Yemen. It gets its name from the red resin that is exuded from the bark after it is cut. An evergreen tree, it can live up to 650 years and reach heights between 33 and 39 feet.

The dragon blood tree is a succulent, very hardy and drought tolerant. It enjoys warm temperatures and sub-tropical conditions. The tree has a unique upturned and densely packed look almost like an uprightly held umbrella. The fi rst description of the dragon blood tree was made during a survey of Socotra led by Lieutenant Wellsted of the East India Company in 1835.

Many myths surround this rare tree. The local people use the resin as a cure all—for healing fevers, ulcers and magic and even a varnish for violins! Because of the belief that it is the blood of the dragon it is also used in ritual magic and alchemy and to increase the potency of spells for protection, love, banishing and sexuality.

In American Hoodoo, African-American folk magic, and New Orleans voodoo, it is used in mojo and as incense to cleanse a space of negative entities or infl uences. It is also added to red ink to make “Dragon’s Blood Ink”, which is used to inscribe magical seals and talismans. The best preserved and largest stand of D. cinnabari is on the limestone plateau named Rokeb di Firmihin. This approximately 1,300 acres forest has numerous rare and endemic species.


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