Within the last few blogs post we have spoken about quite a lot of weird, unusual and some downright annoying plants, but one of the plants that I felt I had to talk about with you guys was the Dracaena Cinnabari, which is otherwise known as the Socotra Dragon Tree. The dragon tree as a species are not exactly unheard of, but the Socotra is one of the more unknown ones, and is actually known as a “Vulnerable” plant too.
The best way to experience what is so unique about the plant itself in terms of the way it looks is to look at the picture we will put at the top. But the west way to describe it, is that the crown opens up as an umbrella would. The reason it is called dragons blood is because of the red resin of the tree itself, and has its own zonal system around the tree. Another interesting aspect about the Dragon Tree is the way the leaves form. Every 3 or 4 years once the trees leaves have outgrown themselves, they shed and newer leaves simultaneously grow from the old branches. These leaves only ever grow out of the youngest branches however. These branches and leaves only die when a herbivore eats the terminal bud too.
The Dragon Tree also grows its own fruits, which are small and fleshy berries that contain anywhere between 1 and 3 seeds at a time. They grow from green to black, and then turn into an orange colour when they ripen. These berries are designed to be eaten by birds for the main reason of dispersion.
The uses of Dragons Blood
The dragon tree over the years has had many uses for humans. The Dragons blood (the resin from the tree) acts as both a stimulant and an abortifacient, and the root itself holds a gum-resin, which can even be used for toothpaste. The dragons blood has been highly sought after in history and to this day is still an in-demand quantity, as it can be used both as a dye for clothing and fabrics and as a medicine. Some of the many other uses for dragon’s blood in the past and to this day are as a breath freshener, glue and even as a form of lipstick for females. Others have even used it for alchemy and what can be considered ritual magic in the past.
The Greeks, Romans and Arabs have all used Dragons blood as a cure for many types of diseases, from diarrhoea and dysentery to using it to lower fevers. It has also been used as both a general healing product for wounds and as a coagulant, and for ulcers in the stomach, intestines, throat and mouth. There have been so many uses for it medicinally that it makes it that much more surprising that it was used as a varnish for violin makers.
From the way Dragon Trees look to the many useful properties that the resin has within, the Dragon Tree has always been one of the most admired and wondered plants of known time. From the ancient times to today, there are still uses for the Dragons Tree and it is still as much of a wonder as ever.
As we are arborists here at Q Gardens, you could say that our main focus in life and our main love are flowers. There are so many exotic and mystifying flowers, and some beautiful and more traditional flowers too. There are probably hundreds and if not hundreds then thousands of still unidentified flowers and plants in the world that are growing in the amazon rainforest or underwater that we have yet to know about. That is one of the truly magnificent things about the planet that we are living on. We never know when we will find a new flower or plant or animal that the world previously was not aware of. For now, we just want to discuss some of arborists more favoured greenery!
The world that we live on is home to nearly 300,000 plants that we are aware of, and there still could be many more than we have yet to know. One of those plants that are much more unusually is the Actaea Pachypoda, otherwise known as White Baneberry. These plants are native to North America and specifically, eastern Canada. Like most plants of its nature, it is found often in hardwood and forest standings.
The plant itself can grow 2 feet tall and can spread roughly 3 feet wide when they are grown, and they leave pods that are 40cm by 30cm. The name behind White Baneberries is quite simple, as the pods that grow from the plant itself is a fruit, which is a white berry. The berry itself have a black stigma scar within itself which also gives itself a more known nickname in “Doll’s Eyes”. The berries which grow from plant itself actually turn into a fruit that is able to continue ripening and stay alive until winter, since the frost kills off the berry itself.
Poison within the Plant
What is even more interesting about the berry itself however, is that both the plant and the berries that they grow are entirely poisonous to humans. The poison within the berries and the plant leave a sedative effect within the cardiac muscle tissue of humans, putting you into what is essentially almost a coma.
The poison is also incredibly potent, meaning that it will affect anyone that decides to eat it. The one type of animal however that remains unaffected by the toxins are birds, and they are able to eat the berries with no effect. Even more interesting about the plant is that the birds who eat the berries from the plant itself are the plants primary seed givers. Therefore, in evolution terms, the bird itself is allowed to eat the berries from the plant in exchange for the seeds that the birds give the plants back.
To add some more information into this extremely rare and interesting plant, is that it requires full shade and regular water with fantastic drainage around the roots to reproduce in its native habitat. This is contradictory to most plants which require sun and water moisture. The plant itself is red, and strikingly noticeable since it does not seem like a normal plant.
Here at Q Gardens we understand that sometimes you find things that are really a thorn on your side! One of the thorns on our side day to day are just that! Thorns! Thorns are nasty little things that attach themselves onto the stems and leaves of plants and they can really, really hurt. I think every professional and amateur gardener has been stung by a thorn before and they will all tell you the same thing. It was both their faults, and it hurt a lot. The thing is, I usually don’t mind thorns if I can keep them out of my way but the one thing I do hate is how much they hurt animals! Often if you are in the vets you will see that dogs and cats alike are there because they stepped on a thorn that hurts them enough for their owners to really worry about, or even the worry that they might become infected or are poisonous! Often this really isn’t the cast but the fact that people can and often are worried about these things is the proof enough that thorns are and will always be in our sides!
One of the interesting things about thorns are why they actually exist. It is just another branch of evolution that is working through the world in thousands and millions of years. Thorns exist because the plant needed a natural and organic defence system to protect themselves against animals. Often animals of all kinds used to eat these specific plants and over the years they had to learn how to deter animals to eat them once again. That is why in botanical terms, thorns had to derive themselves from the shoots of plants. That is also why thorns are able to be anywhere within or on the plant itself, from the stem of the plant to the leaves. There are many technical and scientific names for the thorn types and the plants that they are on, and a lot of them are often confusing Latin, so I’m not going to bother with that.
Thorn on our sides!!
The original theory behind the evolution of thorns is that the little tiny thorny structures had originally evolved as a defence mechanism. This much is obvious, but the more theoretical and overall interesting theory is that the plants that grew in sandy environments that did not have adequate resources for survival for the fast restoration and regeneration of damages. In short, the plants that had the least access to rain, water or any other resources that they need to thrive are the plants to have evolved thorns first. It is an interesting theory but the main issue I have is that even in the wettest parts of Scotland where the soil is strong, the water is often and animals are abundant, there are still thorny plants. I suppose it could mean that the opposite is true, and the regular eating of plants due to the constant resources (and more specifically, herbivores) had just enticed the plants to be eaten every day. I suppose we will sadly never know for sure, but I often hope that we will find out one day!
I hope you enjoyed today’s post! We often hate thorns but I think the story behind them is quite fascinating. Also please check out our post on Kew Gardens! It is a wonderful place to visit!
Here at Q Gardens, our interest is not just in gardens themselves but also the hobby and passion of arborist work in general. The blog itself was actually named after a part of London that is dedicated to be a garden in itself known as Kew Gardens, and it is a lovely spot of green with so many amazing different flowers from all around the world. The intricacy of Kew Gardens as a whole is amazing, since they have managed to manufacture and create an environment within every room of the gardens to make sure the flowers within the complex both survive and thrive. They have taken amazing care of the flowers to make sure that every flower really blossoms out of its shell, allowing the flowers to grow to their full potential and meld into an incredibly beautiful collection of flowers that absolutely anyone can visit! It is my favourite place to go in the entirety of London and if it wasn’t for a lack of funds around the country, I could imagine seeing complexes like this all around the United Kingdom.
Kew Garden is otherwise known as the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the building complex itself actually sits along a large lake making it look beautiful. The garden itself is huge however, and they have a storage of so many different flowers from all over the world that it is actually difficult to really comment on without over explaining the garden itself. IT is also the United Kingdom’s largest UNESCO site due to the sheer size of the gardens themselves. The key to Kew Gardens mission is to be the global resource for plant and fungal knowledge, and to build an understanding of the plants and fungi of the world. They believe this mission so much to the point that they have devoted an entire section of Kew Gardens to science and research.
Kew Gardens have actually launched a state of the world report on the plants and trees of the world, taking great care of the world’s most valuable and vulnerable plants. They have a variety of projects that they have undertaken around the world, from banking the UK’s seeds from the start of the millennium to adapting agriculture to the world’s climate change. Here at Q Gardens we strongly believe that these are all just as important to us, and honestly if I had both the funding and the resources that Kew Gardens have I would create the same projects and hopefully others that will help support the natural green life of the world.
The world is a very important place, but what is even more important is all of the life forms on the planet. While we as humans believe that we are automatically the most important as we perceive ourselves to be the most intelligent, the one thing that we need to consider is how important other things on the planet are such as plants and wildlife. Every day new plants and vulnerable plants die, and severely affect the life force of the planet and even ourselves. These things need to change and here at Q Gardens we hope to raise awareness to some of the world’s plants and also the problems that are faced within the world today.
Thanks for visiting our new blog! We’re a gardening company in Kingston-Upon-Thames and want to share our love of landscaping with more people, so we’ve built this blog! In it we’ll highlight some fantastic gardens we know of, both historical and contemporary!