Dragon Blood Trees.
Daniel Kordan has developed an eye for capturing extraordinary visual milieus around the world, and his recent photo essay on the Socotra archipelago is no exception.
Dragon blood trees are found on the island, which lies between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea. Their upturned branches produce bristly canopies that give the island its name.
The unique growth pattern, visible in Jordan’s photographs taken at dawn, golden hour, and under the light of the stars, is framed by the trees’ gnarled wood underbelly.
The species is known for its otherworldly characteristics such as its sap, which seeps from its trunk and contributes to local legends.
“According to legend, the first dragon blood tree was created from the blood of a dragon who was wounded in a battle with an elephant,” the photographer says.
In an Instagram post about his trip to Socotra, Jordan details the equipment and techniques he used.
Several of his photos of the Yemeni island and white-sand deserts are available as prints in his shop.
All images © Daniel Kordan
Socotra dragon tree, also known as dragon blood tree, is a plant species native to the Socotra archipelago of Yemen, which is part of the Arabian Sea. Red sap is what gives it its name.
Socotra dragon tree or dragon blood tree
Around March, the dragon’s blood tree produces its flowers, although flowering depends on the climate. On the branches, flowers tend to grow. Flowers appear in clusters on these plants, containing a strong scent and green or white petals. Five months are needed for the fruits to mature completely. According to the fruit’s description, it is a fleshy berry that changes from green to black as it ripens.
Fruits of this species have an orange-red color and one to three seeds. A wide variety of birds and animals consume the berries, dispersing them.
In arid areas with low amounts of soil, such as mountaintops, the dragon’s blood tree has an adaptable shape to enable it to survive. This crown provides shade and reduces evaporation. As a result, these trees tend to grow closer together because they benefit from this shade.
A stimulant and an abortifacient can be found in dragon’s blood. As a stimulant, astringent and toothpaste, the root yields a gum-resin. Rheumatism is treated with the root, carminative with the leaves.
Young specimen of Dracaena cinnabari
In ancient times, dragon’s blood resin, which is still harvested today, was highly regarded and highly valued in the ancient world. A dye and medicine used around the Mediterranean basin, the Socotrans ornamentally use it as well as gluing pottery, freshening breath, and making lipstick.
Due to its use in ritual magic and alchemy due to its association with dragon blood, it is also known as dragon blood. Scientists identified three grades of resin in 1883 by analyzing their appearances: the most valuable consisted of tear-like beads, followed by chips and shards, and lastly, debris.
The resin of D. cinnabari is thought to have been the original source of dragon’s blood. Until during the medieval and renaissance periods when other plants were used instead.
Throughout the city of Socotra Island, the members of the local community use dragon’s blood resin as a cure-all. As a general wound healer, coagulant, cure for diarrhea, dysentery treat, and for lowering fever. It was used by the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs.
A prescription for it may be required if you have ulcers in your mouth, throat, intestines, or stomach.
Dragon’s blood from D. cinnabari was used as a source of varnish for 18th-century Italian violin-makers. It was also used as tooth-paste in the 18th century.
Violin varnish and photoengraving are still made with it. A 16th-century text, Stahel und Eyssen, lists dragon’s blood as an ingredient for quenching steel. In stark contrast, this text is poorly regarded either as a description of how smith worked or as a recipe.