Tour to Dixsam plateau in Socotra discovering the Dracena cinnabari trees

18 and 19 February 2014

The Dracena cinnabari, commonly known as dragon blood tree because of its red resin, is probably the most characteristic plant endemic to Socotra island, where it lives in beautiful forests onto Dixsam plateau and Firmin forest itself. The Dracena cinnabari is not the only plant living on Dixsam plateau, but this small area of Socotra is also home to numerous Adenium obesum and other rare plants not found in other parts of the world.

Dixsam
Dixsam plateau in Socotra extends over the mountains at an average altitude of 500 meters above sea level, and is known for the presence of Dracena cinnabari, a beautiful tree endemic to Socotra, unique in the world.

 

Dixsam Socotra
Flowers of Dracena cinnabari
Pictures of Dracena cinnabari in Socotra. The Dracena cinnabari is an endemic plant of Socotra classified by the IUCN (the international organization for the conservation of nature) as "vulnerable" due to the modest area of distribution limited to a few hills on the island of Socotra, which are threatened by grazing and by human activities.

 

Dragonblood resin Dragonblood
The Dracena cinnabari is also known under the name of "dragon blood tree" because it produces a resin that once dissolved in water, it creates a red liquid. This liquid seems to have curative properties against diarrhea, bleeding and ulcers so, for this reason, it is often used by locals as a remedy for such problems.

 

Firming forest is home to numerous trees of Dracena cinnabari (dragon blood tree).

 

Dracena cinnabari Dracena cinnabari in Socotra
Dragonblood tree Dragonblood trees
Pictures of Dracena cinnabari in Socotra. The Dracena cinnabari grows on the barren plateau of Dixsam as isolated trees, or forming real forests such as in Firmin.

 

Dragonblood tree in Socotra
Photos of a Dracena cinnabari shoot from below with a Nikon 10.5 Fisheye lens.

 

Socotra Dracena tree
Dracena dragon blood
The beautiful Dracena cinnabari tree is the main "national" symbol of Socotra.

 

Boswellia ameero Incense tree
The Dixsam plateau in Socotra is the home to not only Dracena cinnabari, but also to other endemic trees and plants, including succulent plants. In these photos, a Boswellia ameero, one of three species of Boswellia living in Socotra, whose resin is collected by local people to produce incense.





 

I make a trek of a few hours to explore the Firmin forest more in depth, which in the distance looks like a vast conglomeration of Dracena cinnabari.

 

Hiking in the forest of Firmin, I discover numerous Dracena cinnabari living together with Adenium obesum and other shrubs.

 

Firmin Firmin Socotra
Firmin forest
The beautiful forest of Firmin in Socotra, near the plateau of Dixam, which hosts a large number of Dracena cinnabari.

 

Died Dracena
What may seem the roots of a tree uprooted by the wind, is actually the "skeleton" of the canopy of a Dracena cinnabari.

 

Goat in Socotra
On the right pictures, shelters built by shepheards. Goats are very important for local people, but unfortunately the animals ignore the boundaries of protected areas, so they are a major threat to the endemic plants of Socotra, as they eat just everything.

 

Other plants and flowers that can be found in Socotra along Firmin forest.

 

Euphorbia arbuscula
Two trees of Euphorbia arbuscula.

 

Exacum affine Persian violet
Pictures of Exacum affine, endemic to the island of Socotra, but exported and commonly found around the world as "Persian violet".

 

Adenium obesum
Pictures of Adenium obesum in full bloom. In the left picture, a Dracena cinnabari also in bloom, is the background to the Adenium obesum.

 

A young Adenium obesum trying to grow in an apparently impossible place: a flat stone without any soil.

 

Flower of Adenium obesum in Socotra
Pictures of Adenium obesum flowers.

 

Aloe
One of several species of Aloe living in Socotra.

 

Caralluma socotrana Flower of Caralluma socotrana
Finally I find a Caralluma socotrana with a beautiful red flower fully open. The Caralluma, like other plants belonging to the family of Asclepiadacee, has a particularly complex flower that resembles rotting flesh for color and smell, in order to ensure pollination by flies.

 

Euphorbia spiralis
A beautiful Euphorbia spiralis.

 

Adenium obesum and Dracena cinnabari in the forest of Firmin.

 

Me and the Adenium obesum.

 

° ° °

° ° °

° ° °