A Writers Guide to Dragon’s Blood

tree resin bleeding from tree

tree resin bleeding from tree*

Dragon’s Blood is not one specific plant; rather it’s a group of different rattan palms that all produce a deep scarlet resin. Rattan palms cover about 600 species of old world climbing palms. In general, dragon’s blood palms have long, slender stems that are flexible. As they age, the trees lean onto and climb other trees.

The genera are Croton, Dracaena, Daemonorops, Calamus, and Pterocarpus. The most well-known species is Daemonorops draco (formerly Calamus draco) whose distinguishing feature is the placement of the flowers along the branches (rather than clustered into catkins). The flowers are small and creamy-white. The pea-sized fruits are bright orange.

Most of the information below refers to the Daemonorops draco.

Particulars

Daemomorops draco

Daemomorops draco

Botanical Name: Daemonorops

Common/Folk Names: Blume, Calamus Draco, Draconis Resina, Dragon’s Blood, Dragon’s Blood Palm, and Sanguis Draconis.

Life Cycle: perennial
Habitat: primarily in the tropics and subtropics of southeastern Asia
Blooms: late winter to early spring

Smell: plant is woodsy; incense is strong, smoky, woodsy, spicy, with a floral hint
Taste: faintly sweet, almost tasteless (hardened resin is not edible)

Notes

  • Dracaena draco is a giant tree found in the East Indies and Canary Islands.

History

  • Early Greeks, Romans, and Arabs used it for its medicinal properties and as dye.
  • The Guanches of the Canaries used it for embalming.
  • The stems are harvested for their cores and used for many things including walking canes and furniture.
  • It’s used as a coloring agent.
  • The resin was used as varnish for 18th-century Italian violin makers.
  • It was also used in photoengraving processes as a coloring material.
  • Polysaccharides found in some species have medicinal anticoagulant properties.
  • The resinous part of the fruit had been used as an aphrodisiac. It has also been used an astringent as well as aid for diarrhea, dysentery, and asthma.
  • A concoction of Dragon’s Blood, colocynth, gamboges, nitre, and copaiba balsam with was believed to cure syphilis.
  • The cherry-sized berries from some species are sold as beads.
  • The seeds of the Daemonorops margaritae are used for Buddhist prayer beads.
  • Dragon’s Blood Oil is used in Hoodoo, Voodoo, Wicca, and Pagan rituals.
Dragon's Blood powder and resin

Dragon’s Blood powder and resin

Lore

  • Gaia gave Juno three golden apples when she married. Juno put them in the Garden of the Hesperides and set Ladon, an ancient dragon with a hundred heads, to guard them. When Herakles tried to steal the apples, he killed Ladon. These palm trees sprang from Ladon’s blood.
  • A dab of the oil on amulets and talismans provides protection and courage.
  • Burning incense will bring love, protection, and courage. It’s also used for exorcism, cleansing a home, and warding off evil.
  • Burning incense in the window will invite love in (or address impotency problems).
  • Resin carried in the pocket will bring good luck.
  • It enables shape shifting.
  • Use in magic spells to bring back a loved one.
Dragon's blood jasper

Dragon’s blood jasper

Side Note: Dragon’s Blood Jasper

I had to mention this dark green jasper with deep red streaks. The stone will enhance your life force; bring courage, strength, and vitality.

This is a reference for fiction writers and should not be taken as medical or spiritual advice.

flowerindex

*may or may not be from this species, it was unclear from the information
References:
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16 Comments

  1. Hi Holly – interesting tree to be found in a few places on earth … in different parts of the globe. I wonder if JK Rowling was browsing botanical references when she chose Draco as her name for Draco Malfoy … appropriately a pure-blood wizard … fascinating pieces of information … cheers Hilary

  2. I like their story of how the tree came into being. I'd heard of it but never knew exactly what it was.

  3. I wonder if in the area it grows it's used as a coloring far more than any red dye.

  4. Just the name gives me so many ideas about how to incorporate it into a story. I loved Hilary's comment, making the connection between the botanical name and Draco Malfoy!

  5. That is very cool. Love the name.

  6. Looks pretty cool. Not something I'd put on pancakes though.

    Arlee Bird
    <a href="http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/">Tossing It Out</a>

  7. I hadn't heard of dragon's blood, except in fantasy, lol.

  8. Wow, I had no idea. Thought the Italian violin varnish part was interesting. Have a good week!

  9. Is there a ground cover plant (herb) that also goes by the name of Dragon's Blood? I had a plant once that supposedly had red blooms and was called Dragon's Blood. I loved the plant but it never bloomed, the leaves would turn a reddish tint at times. Always enjoy learning more about plants from you.

    1. The only ground cover I could find is Dragon's Blood Sedum Plant.

  10. I especially love the descriptions of the smell: "plant is woodsy; incense is strong, smoky, woodsy, spicy, with a floral hint." Sounds like the flavor of a delicious wine.

  11. I find it interesting that the berries can be used as beads. I wonder what they have to do to them for that to be possible.

  12. So cool! I love that they used to use it as varnish on violins. I've seen so many violins over the years that were lovely colors, and red is the loveliest. Thanks for the info and have a great weekend!

    1. I found that one of the most interesting facts too.

  13. your blog is a reference and inspiration for me – i love reading about these earthly facts with fantastical properties and meanings!
    many of my wizards have vials with contents from here =)

    happy summer!
    <a href="http://taratylertalks.blogspot.com/">Tara Tyler Talks</a>

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