Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ‘Samurai’/’Samurai Dwarf’

Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ’Samurai’/‘Samurai Dwarf’ at 3″ tall x 6″ wide when I brought it home on 1-8-20, #660-1.

Sword Sansevieria, Blue Sansevieria, Somaliland Bowstring Hemp, ETC.

Dracaena hanningtonii

dra-SEE-nah  han-ning-TON-ee-eye ?


Sansevieria ehrenbergii

san-se-VEER-ee-uh  er-en-BERG-ee-eye

Synonyms of Dracaena hanningtonii (7) (Updated 11-15-22 from Plants of the World Online): Acyntha ehrenbergii (Schweinf. ex Baker) Kuntze, Acyntha rorida (N.E.Br.) Chiov., Dracaena oldupai Takaw.-Ny. & Mucina, Pleomele hanningtonii (Baker) N.E.Br., Sanseverinia rorida Lanza, Sansevieria ehrenbergii Schweinf. ex Baker, Sansevieria rorida (Lanza) N.E.Br.

Dracaena hanningtonii Baker is the accepted name for this species. It was named and described as such by John Gilbert Baker in Flora of Tropical Africa in 1898.

Now a synonym, Sansevieria ehrenbergii Schweinf. ex Baker was named and described as such by John Gilbert Baker in the Journal of the Linnean Society in 1875. He used a previous description by Georg August Schweinfurth.

The genus, Sansevieria Thunb., was named and described as such by Carl Peter Thunberg in Prodromus Plantarum Capensium in 1794.

The genus, Dracaena Vand. ex L., was described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in Mantissa Plantarum in 1767. He gave credit to Domingo (Domingos, Domenico) Vandelli for first naming and describing the genus. 

As of 11-15-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 201 species in the Dracaena genus. It is a member of the Asparagaceae Family with 120 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Plants of the World Online previously listed 73 accepted genera in the Sansevieria genus. The results of phylogenetic (DNA) testing proved Sanseveria and Draceana should be in the same genus, genetically. Since the genus Dracaena was named before Sansevieria, the species in Sansevieria were moved to Dracaena. Many species of both genera had been moved back and forth between the two multiple times throughout the years anyway.


Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ’Samurai’/‘Samurai Dwarf’ on 1-8-20, #660-2.  

I brought this neat Sanseveria ehrenbergii ‘Samurai’ home from Wal-Mart on January 8, 2020. I remember it well because I didn’t really have the money to pay what the price was. It was in someone’s version of a “decorative” pot so naturally, it cost more than the plant would have been in a small plastic pot. I had gone to the plant department to see if they had any cactus in yet hoping to find something for less than $5.00. I picked up this plant and the label said Sanseveria ‘Samurai’ on a label dangling from a plastic stake. I had no idea what the price was until I had it scanned. I walked around the store for a bit debating whether to buy what I needed or this plant. The plant eventually won, which I pretty much knew it would in the first place.

I brought it home and checked out the name on LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) and found out it was a miniature form of the much larger species called Sanseveria ehrenbergii. LLIFLE also has a write-up about the miniature version called Sanseveria ehrenbergii cv. Banana. It was given that name because someone thought the fat, curved, boat-shaped leaves looked like a banana. I may not have checked with Plants of the World Online by Kew to verify the species name was correct, otherwise, I would have changed it. I read the Wikipedia article which was quite interesting. There wasn’t much else online at the time except retailer’s websites selling this plant as ‘Samurai’ or ‘Dwarf Samurai’. I didn’t go ahead and write a page for it when I brought it home either so I didn’t have a word document…

Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ’Samurai’/‘Samurai Dwarf’ on 1-8-20, #660-3.

On November 13 when I was writing the final 2020 Fall Update for the cactus and succulents in my collection, I decided to go ahead and write this page. As I was coping and pasting links for the bottom of the page, I went to Plants of the World Online, typed in Sansevieria and I was QUITE SHOCKED to see Sanseveria was now a synonym of Dracaena. With all the scientific names that are being updated due to testing, many names are changing or being moved around. Before, Sansevieria was included in the family Dracaenaceae but later all those in that family were transferred to the family Asparagaceae. Due to testing, it was found that Dracaena and Sansevieria species should be in the same genus, and since the Dracaena genus was named before the Sansevieria genus, Dracaena won the prize.

Over the years, many Dracaena and Sansevieria species became synonyms of one another because of various disputes (Dracaena trifasciata vs. Sansevieria trifasciata). Still, there were species in both genera that had different species names but were the same species. So, that resulted in even the well-known species names being changed as well, such as this plant, changing from the better-known name Sansevieria ehrenbergii to Dracaena hanningtonii. The names aren’t new, and these disputes have been going on for a long time. Before testing came about, the differences between Dracaena and Sanseveria were based on their flowers, plant structure, and how they multiply. Both are quite different in that respect except or their fruit… They are basically the same and the flowers are also similar. Testing settled the disputes and it is unquestionable…

Still, the name being officially changed took some time. I believe the first paper on the subject with the evidence was presented in 2014…

Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ’Samurai’/‘Samurai Dwarf’ on 1-8-20, #660-4.

The leaves are hard to explain, but they are VERY thick and hard with kind of a rough texture.  From the center of the plant, the longest leaf is 3 1/4″ long x about 1″ at the widest point, and approximately 1″ deep. The inside of the leaf is sort of concave giving it the appearance of being boat-shaped. The margins or top edges of the leaves are kind of a tan color with a reddish-brown stripe that runs just below that from the tip to the base. The base of the leaf encircles the stem, which you can’t see. The tips of the leaves have a very sharp needle.

Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ’Samurai’/‘Samurai Dwarf’ on 1-8-20, #660-5.

The above photo shows a new leaf growing from the top on 1-8-20.

The species is found in several countries in East Africa, but this dwarf form is thought to be from Somalia.
USDA Zones 9a-10b (20-25° F)
While the species gets pretty big, this dwarf form only grows 4-6” tall.
Hmmm… I put my cactus and succulents outside for the summer. I had this plant on the front porch in light to part shade. In the winter is sitting on a shelf in a west-facing window. Other websites selling this plant say anywhere from full sun to part shade. I certainly wouldn’t put them in full sun…
It needs fast-draining potting soil. I used to use 1 part Miracle Grow Potting soil with 1 part additional perlite and 1 part chicken grit. I have now started using a 50/50 mix of Miracle Grow Potting Soil and Pumice. You can buy pumice online from General Pumice or get smaller quantities on Ebay. Cactus ad Succulent enthusiasts recommend not using peat-based potting soil for several reasons. They recommend a loam-base mix which I can’t find around here of good quality that doesn’t get hard as a brick.
During the growing period, water thoroughly when the soil is dry which depends on the weather, usually every couple of weeks (maybe every week if it is really hot and dry). During the winter, I wouldn’t water it any more than once per month.
NOTE: Avoid misting this plant because the leaves need to stay dry. Of course, watering with a wand during the summer when they are outside is OK, but certainly, avoid watering any plants in the sun. Wait until the sun goes down or they are in the shade for the remainder of the day.

Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ’Samurai’/’Samurai Dwarf’ at 3″ tall x 6″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-93.

I had to bring the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15 because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photographs and measurements. Interestingly, this plant measured the same size as when I brought it home in January… But, as you can see, the new leaf that was emerging has grown quite a bit.


Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ‘Samurai’/’Samurai Dwarf’ at 3 3/4″ tall x 6 1/8″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-16.

The Dracaena hanningtonii ‘Samurai’ has done great and has grown 3/4″ of an inch taller since last October and 1/8″ wider. It now measures 3 3/4″ tall x 6 1/8″ wide.

Hmmm… I didn’t measure or even take a photo of this plant in 2022 but it is alive and well.

I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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