The Dragon Tree, or Drago, is one of the iconic symbols of Tenerife.
It is very slow growing, but when it attains maturity it usually has a thick trunk which is crowned by a thick umbrella-shaped canopy of dagger-like leaves.
It gets its popular name from the secretion of a reddish resin, know as dragon’s blood, which appears when either the bark or leaves are cut.
It is thought that the original inhabitants of the island, the Guanches, used the blood-red sap from the tree in medicines and as an embalming fluid.
Because it grows so slowly, generally taking ten years to reach a height of one metre, many of the taller specimens are believed to be hundreds of years old.
The oldest, in the town of Icod de los Vinos (pictured above) in the north of the island, is reputed to be a thousand years old, though it is generally accepted in the scientific community that in reality it is somewhere between 600-800 years old. It is, nevertheless, a popular tourist attraction.
The difficulty with accurately determining the age of a drago is that it does not display annual growing rings, but instead can only be dated from the number of times it has flowered.