Dracaena cambodiana: India’s first dragon blood-oozing tree

Researchers have discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong District in Assam. This is for 1st time that a dragon tree species has been reported from India. This research which added to India’s botanical wealth has been published in Journal of Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

About Dracaena cambodiana

This plant yields dragon’s blood- a bright red resin. Sap of the plant species turns bright red after coming in contact with air. It is an important medicinal plant as well as an ornamental tree. The plant resin is used since ancient times as medicine, varnish, body oil, incense and dye.

Other than dragon’s blood several antifungal and antibacterial compounds, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc., have been extracted from various parts of plant.

Key Highlights of Research

As per the study in India, Dracaena genus belonging to family Asparagaceae is represented by 9 species and 2 varieties in Himalayan region, northeast and Island of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But Dracaena cambodiana is only true dragon tree species.

Seed Dispersal: Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due to large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow fruits, thereby limiting scope of its natural conservation.

Quarry Threat: Population size of dragon tree species in Assam is estimated to be less than 50 mature individuals and there is continuing decrease in its area of occupancy and number of mature individuals. This is because habitat of plant is severely fragmented due to open excavation of a stone quarry.

Demand Threat: The dragon’s blood is a precious traditional medicine in China. To meet increasing demand for dragon’s blood the recent overexploitation has resulted in rapid depletion of plant. Therefore, this plant species is already listed in inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of China.

Need: In view of its medicinal, ornamental and ecological values there is an urgent need for a Conservation programme for Dracaena cambodiana.

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