On Cape Verde you have the unique opportunity to see the rare Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena draca). This is one of the oldest tree species that exists and is almost extinct. The Dragon Blood Tree is a large and prehistoric looking tree and is still found in the wild in Cape Verde. Mainly on the island of Sao Nicolau. In the world, the Dragon Blood Tree is found in the wild only in Macaronesia (the Azores, the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands).
The Dragon Blood Tree can live for hundreds of years. The tree, which is up to about 12 meters high, is characterized by one or more branches and a dense and umbrella-shaped crown with thick leaves. The tree grows slowly and takes no less than 10 years to reach a height of 1 meter. Just like a palm tree, a Dragon’s Blood Tree is a monocotyledonous. This means that there are no annual rings and it is more difficult to determine the age. The age of the tree can only be estimated based on the number of branches. The largest specimen of the Dragon Blood Tree in the world is on the Canary Islands and is 17 meters high and three meters thick. The age of this Dragon blood tree is estimated at 3,000 years.
Where can you find the Dragon Blood Tree in Cape Verde?
Most numbers of Dragon Blood Trees can be found on Sao Nicolau in areas above 500 meters. Most of the Dragon Blood Trees grow in the Monte Gordo National Park. On the other Cape Verde islands, this tree species is rare.
Why is this tree called the Dragon Blood Tree?
If the bark of the tree is incised or the leaves are crushed, the tree secretes a reddish fluid. In the Middle Ages this was associated with witchcraft and it was thought that this was the blood of dragons. Until recently, dragon blood was still used in the cosmetic industry and as a coloring and coloring agent. Violin builders from Italy, for example, added this to the varnish of the violin. In Cape Verde it is also sometimes added to the local drink Grogue. This gives this Cape Verde rum a beautiful color.