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Family Agavaceae

Spotted dracaena
Dracaena surculosa Lindl.

Scientific names Common names
Dracaena godseffiana Sander ex Mast. Gold dust dracaena (Engl.)
Dracaena surculosa Lindl. Spotted dracaena (Engl.)
Draco surculosa (Lindl.) Kuntze  
Nemampsis ternifolia Raf.  
Pleomele godseffiana ( Sander ex Mast.) N.E.Br.  
Pleomele surculosa (Lindl.) N.E.Br.  
Dracaena surculosa Lindl. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names

Genus name Dracaena is derived from the Greek word "drakaina," which means "dragon" referring to the sap or juice of the stems which resembles blood. Species name surculosa means suckering. (6)

Dracaena surculosa is a small, slender shrub growing up to 2 meters, with wiry spreading stems. Leaves are opposite or whorled, elliptic or oblong-elliptic and cuspidate. Blade is thin, glossy, deep green with numerous, irregular small, yellow spots, with entire margins. Flowers are greenish. Fruit is a red berry.

The variety D. surculosa var. surculosa has a racemose inflorescence. D. surculosa var. capitata flowers in a capitate or headlike inflorescence. D. godseffiana 'Florida beauty' has leaflets almost entirely covered by creamy-white blotches. D. surculosa 'Friedman' has elliptic, olive green leaves with cream blotches and a broad ivory center band.

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Native to Congo.

- Study of whole plant isolated nine steroidal saponins, including three new bisdesmosidic spirostanol saponins, surculosides A, B, and C (1-3), and a new bisdesmosidic furastanol saponin (4). (see study below) (1)
- Study isolated two new 3,5-cyclospirostanol saponins (1, 2) and two new 3,5-cyclofurostanol saponins (3, 4), established as (24S,25R)-1b-[(b-D-fu- copyranosyl)oxy]-6b-hydroxy-3a,5a-cyclospirostan-24-yl b-D-glucopyranoside (1), (24S,25R)-1b-[(b-D-glucopyra- nosyl)oxy]-6b-hydroxy-3a,5a-cyclospirostan-24-yl b-D-glucopyranoside (2), (25S)-1b-[(b-D-glucopyranosyl)oxy]- 6b-hydroxy-22a-methoxy-3a,5a-cyclofurostan-26-yl b-D-glucopyranoside (3), and (25S)-1b-[(b-D-fucopyra- nosyl)oxy]-6b-hydroxy-22a-methoxy-3a,5a-cyclofurostan-26-yl b-D-glucopyranoside (4), respectively. (2)

• No known medicinal folkloric use in the Philippines.
• Dracaena produces a bright red resin - dragon's blood - used medicinally in ancient times.
• In Sierra Leone, used to increase fitness and physical strength in children. Decoction of boiled leaves used to bathe a child twice a day. About 50 cc of the decoction sometimes drunk concurrently. (5)

Steroidal Saponins / Cytotoxicity: Phytochemical study isolated nine steroidal saponins, including three new bisdesmosidic spirostanol saponins–surculosides A, B and C and a new bisdesmosidic furostanol saponin. The isolated saponins were evaluated for their cytotoxic activity against HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells. (1)
Steroidal Saponins: Study isolated two new 3,5-cyclosspirostanol saponins (1,2) and two new 3,5-cyclofurostanol saponins (3,4). (see constituents above) (2)
• Peroxidase Activity / Roots: In a study of four different varieties of plant roots for peroxidase activity, spotted dracaena gave the highest peroxidase activity with 361.07 M/ml.
Peroxidase has the potential for use in removal of water contaminated with phenols. Plant peroxidase presents an efficient and low cost alternative, with no by-product formation. (6)

• Reported toxicity to cats. (4)


Updated October 2018 / August 2016

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Steroidal Saponins from Dracaena surculosa / Akihito Yokosuka, Yoshihiro Mimaki, and Yutaka Sashida / J. Nat. Prod., 2000; 63(9): pp 1239–1243 / DOI: 10.1021/np000145j
Four New 3,5-Cyclosteroidal Saponins from Dracaena surculosa / Akhito Yokosuka et al / CHEMICAL & PHARMACEUTICAL BULLETIN, Vol. 50 (2002) , No. 7 992
Dracaena surculosa / Synonyms / The Plant List
Dracaena surculosa: Plants toxic to cats / Ritchie Feed & Seed
Dracaena surculosa / Cyrus Macfoy / Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine in Sierra Leone
CC MPARATIVE STUDY ON THE PEROXIDASE ACTIVITY FROM TH^JLOATS OF Caulerpa lentillifera (GRAPES SEAWEEDS), ROOTS OF Tamarindus indica (TAMARIND), Esichhornia crassipes (WATER HYACINTH) AND Dracaena surculosa (SPOTTED DRACAENA) / Maan Dyann N. Berosil, Cherrie Joy C. Magtibay / Undergraduate Thesis: Feb 2005 / Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa, Manila

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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