Dragon blood Trees

These amazing plants grow slowly and are native to the Socotra archipelago between the coast of Yemen and the Horn of Africa. A full third of the plants found in these islands are endemic (ie found nowhere else as natives) as they are isolated in the Indian Ocean, with the nearest land being 250km away and it has been named as a contender for the most alien looking place on Earth award. The trees are slow growing and get their name from the red resin they exude when the bark is injured. The resin was used in traditional medicine (and remains so today) and to make dyes as far away as Greece and Rome, which obtained them through trade along with frankincense and myrrh.


Image credit: Csilla Zelko




Paolo Woods: Socotra

Socotra is an Island in the Indian Ocean that is part of Yemen. It is one of the earth’s most isolated landforms. It has been inaccessible until recently to foreigners because it was a military base. It is becoming a favored destination for ecotourists, bird lovers and researchers. The island’s flora and fauna consists of weird and wonderful species, many that do not exist anywhere else on the planet. Indeed, the 300 species of plants, 24 reptiles, 113 insects and six birds endemic to Socotra have led some to dub it the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean. It is a mountainous island with deep and often unexplored caves. Socotra also has miles and miles of pristine white beaches, its position as an oceanic crossroads gives it world-class diving potential.

**I need to be there now.

The Socotra Dragon Tree or Dragon Blood Tree, Dracaena cinnabar, is native to the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The English name of this tree is due to the crimson red resin which is used as a dye, medicine, and in ritual magic and alchemy.

More about this species: Encyclopedia of Life

Image: Rod Waddington - Kergunyah, Australia via Wikimedia Commons


In Focus: The Galapagos of the Indian Ocean

Far off the coast of Yemen lies isolated Socotra island, where hundreds of plants and animals have developed into species unique to the island. The best-known of these might be the Dragon Blood trees, with their densely-packed crowns and blood-red sap. Socotra, sometimes referred to as “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” is slowly emerging from its long isolation — in 1999, the first airport opened, and tourism began to pick up. In an effort to counter any negative impacts, UNESCO recognized the island as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2008, promoting conservation of the unique environment and some of its endangered species.

Read more.