- 25 Jul 2019
- 2 min read
A trio of researchers led by Assam forest officer Jatindra Sarma has discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in the Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong. This is for the first time that a dragon tree species has been reported from India.
- It is a plant that yields dragon’s blood — a bright red resin (a precious traditional medicine in China) used since ancient times as medicine, body oil, varnish, incense and dye.
- Several antifungal and antibacterial compounds, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc.have been extracted from various parts of the plant.
- In India, the Dracaena genus belonging to the family Asparagaceae is represented by nine species and two varieties in the Himalayan region, the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But Dracaena cambodiana is the only true dragon tree species, the study said.
- Recent overexploitation to meet the increasing demand for dragon’s blood has resulted in rapid depletion of the plant. For this reason, the species is already listed in the inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of China.
- The population size of the dragon tree species in Assam was estimated to be fewer than 50 mature individuals. The habitat of the plant is severely fragmented due to open excavation of a stone quarry and there is continuing decrease in its area of occupancy and number of mature individuals.
- The Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due to the large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow the fruits, thus limiting the scope of its natural conservation.