This huge specimen of dragon tree, a unique-looking plant native to the Canary Islands, is a symbol of the village of Icod de los Vinos and the island of Tenerife. With a height of nearly 60 feet and an even bigger diameter, this long-lived plant is one of the largest and oldest known examples of the Dracaena drago species in the world.
It was long believed that the dragon tree of Icod was at least 1,000 years old—hence the name, the Drago Milenario or “Millennial Dragon Tree”—but more recent studies estimate it’s closer to half that. Regardless, it’s the oldest and most magnificent of its kind in the Canary Islands, and has been a National Monument ever since 1917.
Actually, the dragon tree is not technically a tree at all, but rather a monocotyledon plant in the same family as the asparagus. Because of this, it not display any annual growth rings so the age of the tree can only be estimated by the number of branching points. The tree-like plant is crowned by a dense umbrella-shaped canopy with thick and leathery green leaves. Its name comes from an old legend that the ancient dragons of yore became trees when they died; when the bark of the plant is cut, it creates a red resin that was said to be the blood of dragons.
The trunk of the Drago Milenario has a huge cavity that rises up to almost 20 feet in height, which is accessed by a door. It’s surrounded by a large park created to protect the emblematic plant from car pollution and vandalism. At the foot of the tree, there’s an area dedicated to the smaller dragon trees in the park, which shows the evolutionary process of this species. The park also has botanical gardens featuring local flora; a winery and picnic areas; and a small volcanic cave that was an ancient burial site of the native Guanche people of Tenerife.