A stunning new species of dragon tree discovered in Thailand

Oct 17, 2013
This is the new dragon tree species Dracaena kaweesakii viewed from below showing the rich branching. Credit: Paul Wilkin

The newly discovered dragon tree species Dracaena kaweesakii from Thailand is characterized by its extensive branching. The new species reaches an impressive 12 m in both height and crown diameter, and has beautiful soft sword-shaped leaves with white edges and cream flowers with bright orange filaments, all highly distinctive features. The study describing this exciting new species was published in the open access journal Phytokeys by an international team of scientists.

Dracaena kaweesakii is a relative of the beautiful Canary Island dragon tree Dracaena draco. It is an ecologically important found only on limestone hills and mountains that are often associated with Buddhist temples in Thailand.

Dracaena kaweesakii is extracted from the wild for use in horticulture in Thailand and is one of the more popular species due to its extensive branching. Dracaena species in general are thought by Thai people to bring luck to households that have them, hence their popularity. A number of populations of D. kaweesakii are protected by proximity to temples or having been transplanted into their gardens. There is no direct evidence yet of over-extraction but sustainability studies are needed at population level to insure the protection of this beautiful species.

This image demonstrates the thickness of a trunk base in a large tree of Dracaena kaweesakii showing the corky, fissured surface. Credit: Warakorn Kasempankul/Parinya Siriponamat

This image shows flowers of Dracaena kaweesakii. Credit: Warakorn Kasempankul/Parinya Siriponamat

"Dracaena kaweesakii is thought to be endangered through having a limited distribution, destruction of limestone for concrete and extraction of trees for gardens," comments Dr Wilkin about the conservation status of the new dragon .

Explore further: Endangered clouded leopard kittens born in Miami zoo

More information: Wilkin P, Suksathan P, Keeratikiat K , van Welzen P, Wiland-Szymanska J (2013) A new species from Thailand and Burma, Dracaena kaweesakii Wilkin & Suksathan (Asparagaceae subfamily Nolinoideae). PhytoKeys 26: 101. DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.26.5335

Related Stories

New orchid identified from Komodo

Jun 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —A new species of orchid has been identified on the South East Asian island of Komodo despite having been wrongly named for the past 300 years.

Recommended for you

Clues to aging from long-lived lemurs

14 hours ago

When Jonas the lemur died in January, just five months short of his thirtieth birthday, he was the oldest of his kind. A primate called a fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Jonas belonged to a long-lived clan. Dwarf ...

Cats relax to the sound of music

18 hours ago

According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery by veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon and a clinic in the nearby town of Barreiro in Portugal, music is likew ...

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

20 hours ago

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Crete's mystery croc killed by cold snap

20 hours ago

A man-eating crocodile that became an attraction on the Greek island of Crete last year after its mysterious appearance in a lake has died, probably of cold, an official said Monday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.