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Kaweesak's Dragon Tree: Mother of Dragons

Top 10 New Species of 2014

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    Close view of rich branching
    Photo credit: Paul Wilkin

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    Open flowers and buds
    Photo credit: Warakorn Kasempankul/Parinya Siriponamat

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    Trunk of large tree showing diameter and corky, fissured surface
    Photo credit: Warakorn Kasempankul/Parinya Siriponamat

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    Tree viewed from below showing the rich branching
    Photo credit: Paul Wilkin

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    Fruits and leaves on a karst limestone rock
    Photo credit: Paul Wilkin

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Kaweesak's Dragon Tree: Mother of Dragons

Top 10 New Species of 2014

About the Kaweesak's Dragon Tree

Name: Dracaena kaweesakii

Kingdom: Plantae

Family: Asparagaceae

How it made the Top 10: Sounding like something out of Game of Thrones and standing 12 meters (nearly 40 feet) tall, it's hard to believe the dragon tree went unnoticed this long. Beautiful, soft, sword-shaped leaves with white edges and cream-colored flowers with bright orange filaments are the hallmarks of this impressive plant. The dragon tree is found in the limestone mountains of the Loei and Lop Buri Provinces in Thailand and may also be found in nearby Burma. Valued as a horticultural plant, its small number (perhaps 2,500), and the fact that it grows on limestone that is extracted for the manufacture of concrete, has earned this species a preliminary conservation status of endangered.

Etymology: This species is named for collaborator, friend and co-author Toi (Kaweesak Keeratkiat) in recognition of his extensive knowledge of Chan diversity.

Type material: Holotype at the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Isotypes at the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department in Bangkok, Thailand and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, U.K.

Type locality: Khao Wong Chan Daeng Mountains, Lam San Ti, Lop Buri Province, Central Thailand

Reference: Wilkin P, Suksathan P, Keeratikiat K, van Welzen P, Wiland-Szymanska J. 2013. A new species from Thailand and Burma, Dracaena kaweesakii Wilkin & Suksathan (Asparagaceae subfamily Nolinoideae). PhytoKeys 26: 101–112.

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