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: A critically endangered beauty: The passion flower Passiflora kwangtungensis

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Genome yields insights into golden eagle vision, smell

2 hours ago

Purdue and West Virginia University researchers are the first to sequence the genome of the golden eagle, providing a bird's-eye view of eagle features that could lead to more effective conservation strategies.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...

One in 13 US schoolkids takes psych meds

(HealthDay)—More than 7 percent of American schoolchildren are taking at least one medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties, a new government report shows.

FDA reconsiders behavior-modifying 'shock devices'

(HealthDay)—They're likened to a dog's "shock collar" by some and called a "life-saving treatment" by others. But the days of electro-shock devices as a tool for managing hard-to-control behavior in people ...

Computer program could help solve arson cases

Sifting through the chemical clues left behind by arson is delicate, time-consuming work, but University of Alberta researchers teaming with RCMP scientists in Canada, have found a way to speed the process.