dragon tree

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: The Dragon Tree


I recently returned from an eye-opening trip to Tenerife, where I saw a multitude of flora and fauna the like of which I had no idea even existed. Lizards scooting in and out of cracks in walls, some as tiny as your pinkie and some as long as your arm. Hawks hovering overhead, trying to catch the unwary ones. Smaller birds hopping from prickly pears to aloes, to plants I don’t even know the name for yet.
The crown jewel in this cornucopia is the famous dragon tree at Icod de los Vinos: El Drago Milenario. Although the age of the tree is widely disputed (claims put it at anywhere between 800 and 2000 years old) there is no disputing the majesty and power of this giant dracaena. The trunk is so old it looks almost fossilised, and even with a panoramic shot, I couldn’t get the whole thing on one picture without moving a long way off.

The tree is highly protected, and you can’t go right up to it although you can get pretty close, close enough to stand in its shade and see how green and lush it still is, after all these hundreds of years. Birds flit in and out of the leaves, and smaller trees and fragrant herbs surround it, almost in worship of their great mother tree. I wax lyrical, but it truly was an awesome sight, and I was glad to bring back a bit of info about this amazing plant to share with you.
The Kitchen Garden
There are many different species of dragon tree. The species on Tenerife are dracaena draco, however you may have a spidery looking house plant called dracaena marginata, or a flatter leaved tree with golden spots called dracaena surculosa.
These plants are all amazing additions to the household, and bring with them a lovely energy and of course, help clean the air and keep it oxygen rich.
There are many edible products that can be made with the sap of dragon trees, including soft drinks, liqueurs, and sweets, however for the plants you have in your home, none would be big enough to support their sap being taken, so please just enjoy their company and beauty.
The Apothecary
During the 1600s it was discovered that tribes in Peru and Equador used the resin of dragon trees to stop bleeding, heal wounds and cure intestinal issues.
More recently science has found a component in the resin, taspine, which is documented to have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, so clearly these older tribes were onto something.
Dragon’s blood is also indicated for Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Other Uses
Because of the brilliant red colour of the sap of the tree, it can be used as a dye, and has historically also been used as lipstick!
The Witch’s Kitchen

One of the most incredible ingredients I have ever come across for incense making is Dragon’s Blood. Dragon’s Blood can be the resin of this amazing tree picture above, although it can also be obtained from other similar plants. The resin of dracaena cinnabari, a close relative of the Canary Islands dragon tree I so love, first entered written record over 2000 years ago. This indicates the sap was probably in use well before this.

One of the main things I use this gorgeous, red jewel for is to enhance other magic. I love making incense, and often use a sprinkle of dragon’s blood to give a boost to other effects, or to bind together several ingredients that may not naturally fall well together. For example, when I make seasonal incense, I use contradictory male and female herbs to represent the balance and diversity in the season. I find that dragon’s blood helps meld the scent and the magic, whilst enhancing the individual qualities.
Dragon’s blood is red so can represent fire, and of course the beast it is named for, the mighty dragon! The dragon may be a mythical beast, an elemental, or a representation of our emotions, but there is no denying the emotive response we all have to the word which instantly conjures images of power and mystery.
Home and Hearth

You can occasionally purchase dragon’s blood resin from magical or herbal practitioners. I would exercise caution and only purchase small amounts. Not only is it potent, but the sap itself can sometimes be in such high demand that supply runs low, and trees are at risk. Remember that these trees are sacred and ancient, so treasure a small amount.
Make an incense of colophony (pine resin) and dragon’s blood to cleanse and purify your house. If you have a censer, this is ideal. If not, just burn the incense on some charcoal in a fire proof pot, and carry it round in gloved hands. Please be careful! Go through each room and call your personal spirits and banish anything you need to. The pine will cleanse while the dragon’s blood enhances the magic of your incense and promotes your own sense of self; your blood, your passion; your energy.
I Never Knew…
Never ingest dragon’s blood if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, as it is an abortifacient and can cause a miscarriage.