The genus and family name of a plant usually ventures into the bizarre, and often unpronounceable, leaving many of us to wonder – Where on earth do the names of our favorite plants originate from? The origin of plant names often date back many centuries, deriving from an ancient and forgotten languages.
This week we will focus our attention on the sinisterly named genus, Dracaena. The word Dracaena (pronounced Dra – si – na) comes from the Ancient Greek word, Drakaina, meaning ‘female dragon’, due to many a green thumb likening the red stems often found in Dracaena to the color of dragon blood. There are two common types of Dracaena:
- Tree: Dracaena trees often grow over 10 feet tall and are commonly found in dry, hot climates prevalent in Africa or South America. They are distinctive for their long thin trunks, wide branches, and far reaching leaves. They’re more common name is dragon tree due to the aforementioned blood association. The cinnabari, arborea, draco and amaericana species are commonly known as dragon trees.
- Shrub (Indoor Plant): The other main type is their use as an indoor plant. Their sword-like leaves, glossy finish and small shrub size make them perfect for businesses looking to add a tropical touch to their interior. They grow on the floor of the rainforest and thrive in hot climates, so avoiding cold areas is key to taking care of them domestically. The Dracaena deremensis, fragrans and marginata species are commonly found in offices and homes.
There are reportedly over forty different species of Dracaena in the world and all of them possess a secondary thickening meristem. The meristem is the tissue in all plants that help them grow. The Dracaena’s secondary meristem helps them grow wide, thick and succulent roots. Because of this, many experts have termed this the Dracaenoid thickening.
The red gum-like resin in the stems of Dracaena were used centuries ago for things like toothpaste, dye and cures for rheumatism, dysentery and as a general cure all for certain tribes. Today, it is more commonly used for varnish (such as for the wood on a violin) and photoengraving.
So How Should You Care For Dracaena In Your Home/Office?
Since they originate from arid desserts and tropical rainforests, its best to keep them in as humid condition as possible. Try placing pebbles around the base of the plant to increase humidity. Though they require less watering than most indoor plants, it is good to keep them hydrated by misting the leaves and keeping it in drained, nutrient rich soil. Depending on the species, Dracaena can thrive in both medium and low light indoor environments.
To find more interesting facts about indoor plants, explore our floor plant catalog.
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What do you think about the Dracaena’s mythical origins? Share your thoughts in the comments below.