Only a few species among more than 60–100 species of Dracaena genus reach the arborescent form. Arborescent dracaenas were classified into dragon tree group comprising following species: Dracaena cinnabari, D. tamaranae, D. draco s.l., D. ombet s.l., and D. serrulata s.l. spread in South Arabia, Macaronesia and North Africa. It is possible to count other species from Neotropics – D. americana, Asia – D. jayniana, D. cochinchinensis, D. yuccifolia, D. cambodiana and D. kaweesakii, and Africa – D. ellenbeckiana and D. steudneri to the dragon tree group due to its tree growth habit.
The significance of these group of species is given for many reasons, most important are:
- Dragon trees are tertiary relict species, the ecosystems (woodlands and very rare forests) with these species belong to one of the oldest ecosystems around the world
- Most species are endemic with limited (often island) distribution
- The distribution of most species is scattered to the small population with unbalanced age structure, where often young trees are missing
- Most species are endangered and listed in IUCN Red List
- Natural regeneration of most species is endangered by overgrazing
- Most species are an important source of non-timber products since ancient times (resin, fodder for cattle or beekeeping) thus belong to culture heritage
- Most species are spread in developing countries with unstable political situation, the populations are under pressure of local inhabitants and weak governments do not have sufficient resources and possibilities to protect these species
The main objective of the conference is to present latest results of research focused on species of dragon tree group and to determine main gaps for future investigation as the bases for conservation management. For this reason, the informal Dragon Trees Consortium will be established within conference.