My family’s health insurance provider just informed us, for the umpteenth time, that they won’t be paying for any of the therapy needed by our family member who has autism. Although that’s a topic for a different type of blog, it has relevance here too. “Sounds like a personal problem, Greenmomster. What on Earth do your health insurance woes have to do with the environment?” you may ask. Well, my health insurance woes make me mad. Really mad. Spitting mad. Mad enough to BREATH FIRE! And that brings us to our endangered species of the week – the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari)!
This incredible tree looks like an upside-down umbrella, growing at elevations of approximately 900 to 4500 feet. It is found on Socotra, a small island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Yemen. Its sap is a deep red color and is used to make cinnabar for medicines, dyes, and other uses; it is often confused with the mineral-based cinnabar which is highly poisonous. Dragon’s Blood Trees are a type of plant known as “monocots,” which means they’re similar in many ways to palms and grasses. The island on which the Dragon’s Blood tree is found is also home to the source of frankincense, a species of Boswellia. The Dragon’s Blood Tree is listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. What’s threatening the tree’s future? No one is 100% sure. According to www.arkive.com, overgrazing is often mentioned as a possible threat. The gradual drying of the island climate, exacerbated by changes due to global climate change, also seems to be a possible cause.
For more photos and information on the Dragon’s Blood Tree, be sure to check out www.arkive.org. Ah, just looking at these beautiful trees is making me feel calmer…..