Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Branched shrubs of modest proportions about 1 m high or up to 4(8) m. Roots reddish brown, usually more or less tuberous; root crown well developed, periodically producing canelike shoots, usually overreaching earlier formed aerial parts, the tallest often more or less sarmentose, dark green when young, at length shiny medium brown, densely clothed in greenish-white diaphanous closely sheathing prophylls, showing parallel nerves, triangular and up to 9 cm long, deciduous or persistent for some time, their bases encircling the stem or nearly so, leaving an annular scar, stems topped by a pseudowhorl of a small number of leaves borne in a horizontal plane; growth may continue monopodially in a similar fashion, but older canes produce slender lateral branches, passing through the base of their subtending prophyll or leaf base and bearing themselves fewer-leaved pseudowhorls arranged in one plane with the horizontal branch. Leaves elliptic, (1.5)4-18(20) cm, (0.5)1.5-6(7) cm, the widest part almost exactly in the middle, margins sometimes slightly rough, acuminate to more or less cuspidate, tipped by a short subulate mucro often absent in herbarium, base cuneale lo almost rounded, attenuate into a short pseudo-petiole (2)5-l0(13) mm long, (1)2-5(8) mm wide, abruptly widening lo embrace the stem for about half its circumference, fresh leaves glossy bright lo dark green above, concolorous or variegated with white to yellowish or light green dots, rings or fused patterns, not always distinct on the paler lower surface, parallel nerves usually indistinct above, midrib indicated by a sharp depression along its length, prominent beneath, the parallel venation visible, leaves distinctly thinner in herbarium, stiff lo quite filmy, nerves prominent on both faces, the midrib quite similar to the adjacent nerves but distinctly more prominent beneath, transverse secondary veins sometimes also prominent or distinct. Inflorescences terminal on canes and blanches, but also axillary from leaf or prophyll axils representing leafless dwarf branches, straight, unbranched 2-18 cm long, up to 2 mm in diameter, clothed in up to 20 appressed prophylls 1-22(55) x 1-4(16) mm, with up to 7 distinct 1-5-flowered glomerules in the distal part and a 5-45-llowered terminal glomerules. Bracts may be present, especially on the outside of glomeruies, 3-13 x 1-3 mm of similar nature as the prophylls, their size and presence diminishes towards the center of the glomerule where they may be quite absent, pedicels jointed, either above or below the middle, the persistent basal part (1)2-4(7) mm long, about 1 mm in diameter, slightly accrescent in fruit and up to 8 mm long and 1 mm thick, it may bear a flimsy subulate bracteole 1-2(3) mm long that is usually absent in the central flowers of a glomerule. Flowers greenish- to pure white, subject to accelerated stretching of the buds into anthesis, 15-42 mm long, including the slender receptacle representing the top of the pedicel above the joint, variable in size, 1-16 mm long at anthesis, but increasing in length up to the fruiting stage, perianth tube 7-12 mm long, lobes 6-16 mm long, slightly more than 2 mm wide with very delicate diaphanous margins when fully expanded, stamens inserted in the throat, filaments slightly inflated, up to 1 mm in diameter, up to 1 mm shorter than the corresponding perianth lobe, filiform tip bent inwards, anthers (1.5)3 x 0.75-1 mm. ovary cylindrical with a flat top, about 2 mm x 1 mm, style filiform, reaching the top of the ovary at anthesis, eventually 1-3( 5) mm exserted. Stigma capitate, club-shaped to indistinctly 3-lobed. Fruits orange-scarlet, globose or distinctly lobed, up to 2 cm in diameter, retaining the up to 25 mm long slalklike receptacle. Seeds white to light brown, globular to semispherical with variable diameters between 4 13 mm. Seedlings develop a short cane with prophylls, topped by a small pseudowhorl of initially often oval leaves, the primary rootlet is soon pushed aside by a stouter rather tuberous adventitious root.
Source: Bos J.J. 1984. Dracaena in West Africa. Agricultural University Wageningen papers (no. 84-01)