• Dragon Trees Nucleus, Funchal

Although the Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco) is endemic to the Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde, only a few individuals can be found growing naturally. It grows extremely slowly, usually taking approximately 10 years to reach about 2-3 feet before its first flowering. It is the flowering that causes the stem to branch, which it does usually about every ten years (possibly less in cultivation), creating the much-divided crown ('hundred-headed' dragon) so characteristic of specimens several decades old.

Perhaps the oldest specimen is found in the town of La Orotava, in the Orotava Valley on Tenerife. Locally it is called the 'Millennium Dragon Tree' and variously estimated to be 1500-3000 years old, though it is likely not to be older than 650 years, judging by its number of branched ranks.

In a concerted effort to ensure the continuity of this species, the Regional Government of Madeira has created a park where some centenary Dragon Trees can still be found. This place is located at Sítio das Neves, in São Gonçalo, just outside Funchal, on the road towards the airport.

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