It can’t fly and it doesn’t breathe fire, but the dragon’s blood tree can make one extraordinary claim to fame. The bark of the tree bleeds, leading to its use in magic and medicine since ancient times.
The dragon’s blood tree (dracaena cinnabari) has an unusual appearance, with branches like white bony fingers reaching up to a crown of evergreen leaves. The blood-red sap is secreted naturally from cracks and cuts in the trunk. Harvesters open the existing fissures to collect the oozing sap, which has a variety of uses.
Although the dragon’s blood tree looks like an umbrella, it is designed to collect, rather than repel, water. The long, waxy leaves gather moisture from the air and transport it down to the branches, trunk, and roots, enabling the tree to survive in Socotra’s hot and dry climate.
The deep-red sap of the dragon’s blood tree is an effective ingredient in dyes, varnish, adhesive, and incense. It has also been successful in treating cuts, bites, burns, and sores because the resin’s healing properties reduce redness and swelling.