Daemonorops draco

Daemonorops draco

Dragon’s blood (Daemonorops draco (Willd.) Blume) is an arboreal species belonging to the Arecaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Arecidae Subclass, Arecales Order, Arecaceae Family, Calamoideae Subfamily, Calameae Tribe, Calaminae Sub-tribe and therefore to the Daemonorops Genus and to the D. draco Species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Calamus draco Willd .;
– Calamus draconis Oken;
– Daemonorops propinqua Becc .;
– Palmijuncus draco (Willd.) Kuntze.

Etymology –
The term Daemonorops derives from Daemon which is the Latin word derived from the ancient Greek daimon (δαίμων: “god”, “divine”, “power”, “destiny”), which originally referred to a minor deity or guiding spirit.
The specific epithet draco comes from draco, draconis (in Greek δράκων drákon) dragon, dragon: a reinforcing epithet of the genus.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Daemonorops draco is a plant native to Southeast Asia, in an area ranging from Thailand to Indonesia.
Its natural habitat is that of the primary forests of Dipterocarpus of the flat areas.

Description –
Dragon’s blood is an evergreen palm that produces a cluster of unbranched stems up to 15 meters long that can climb into surrounding vegetation.
It is a dioecious plant so it is necessary to cultivate both the male and the female form if you want to obtain fruits and seeds.

Cultivation –
Daemonorops draco is a plant from the lowlands of tropical wetlands.
They grow best with their roots in the shade but with enough space for their foliage to develop in the presence of light.
They benefit from the presence of humus-rich soils.
Propagation is by seed and harvesting is done by climbing a tree near the plant and picking the fruit by hand. Older fruits contain more resin.
One clump of the plant produces around 50 pounds of dragon’s blood fruit.

Customs and Traditions –
Dragon’s blood is used in nature for its resin, medicinal uses, and to provide material for making baskets. This is probably the main species that provides the resin, although many others are also a source. The resin is sold in local markets and sometimes traded internationally.
There are also edible uses; in fact, the resin obtained from fruit flakes is used as a flavoring and as a red dye in non-alcoholic drinks.
Furthermore, as far as pharmaceutical uses are concerned, the resin was previously appreciated as a medicine in Europe for its astringent properties, although it is currently little used. The resin is used internally to relieve chest pain, postpartum bleeding, internal trauma and menstrual irregularities.
The resin is used externally as a wash for further healing and to stop bleeding. It has also been used in toothpastes and as a mouthwash.
Dragon’s blood is a brittle resin, faintly sweet or almost tasteless and odorless.
Among other uses we mention:
– an orange to red resin, known as “dragon’s blood”, is extracted from fruit scales and leaf sheaths; this is used as a dye for fabrics, baskets, paints, toothpastes, dyes and plasters to dye the horns to imitate turtle shells. It is also used in paints and lacquers, especially on violins, where it gives a color similar to mahogany, and in photoengraving on zinc, where it protects the metal parts that must not be engraved.
The best dragon’s blood comes in the form of cylinders 30 – 35 cm in length and 20 – 25 mm in thickness and when dissolved in alcohol the residue content is less than 9%.
The cane appears to be of good quality for use in wicker, etc.
The long and slender stems of rattan, which are made from this plant, are intended for various uses based on their size, length, flexibility, elasticity and toughness. The thinnest rods are used whole for tying and in the manufacture of chairs, tents, mats, wicker or wicker, fishing gear, etc. these twisted together form very resistant cables. Larger and stronger rods are used whole as cables, wicker chair frame etc. Usually, however, for many purposes, the stems are divided along their entire length into 2-4 or more strips from which it is removed with a knife or the same other tool, so as to leave the outer part, which is hard , tough, flexible, elastic and has a very clean and smooth external surface as if it had been painted.
The strips vary in width depending on the use they are to be put on. Those for delicate work, such as furniture mesh, small bags, hats, etc., have a width of 1 to 3 mm; those used as anchors in native construction or in fixing the removable head of the Malaysian ax to its handle are 5-6 mm wide.

Preparation Method –
The resin extraction can be done with dry or wet methods. The dry extraction is carried out by drying the harvested fruits in the sun and then crushing them. The resulting resin is filtered and washed with hot water to form a batter. The resin is transformed into granules, sticks and powder. Alternatively, the fruits are first dried and the resin then removed by rubbing the fruit with thistle shells.
The resin thus collected is processed by wrapping it in a cloth, wetting it in hot water and then crushing it.
For wet extraction, the crushed fruits are boiled in water, but the dyes thus extracted are of lower quality.
For the preparation of the stems, however, the collection and preparation of the stems is very simple. The stem is cut close to the ground and detached from the trees by grasping its base firmly and thus knocking down the entire plant with its leaves. The most recent growth at the top of the plant is removed and then, by handling it from the upper end, the stem is pulled forcefully in reverse between two pieces of wood, thus removing the thorny covers. It is then cut into lengths of about 5 meters; each piece is folded into two equal parts and the stems are fixed in bundles ready for the market. The finest stems are no thicker than a man’s little finger and have a fine and shiny straw yellow glassy surface.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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