Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia (Syn. D. marginata) (Dragon Tree)

Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia on 4-18-12, #87-7.

Dragon Tree

Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia

dra-SEE-Nah an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-uh


Dracaena marginata

dra-SEE-Nah mar-jen-AY-tuh

Synonyms of Dracaena reflexa (5) (Updated on 11-15-22 from Plants of the World Online): Cordyline reflexa (Lam.) Endl. (1842), Dracaena reflexa var. typica Baker (1875)(not validly publ.), Draco reflexa (Lam.) Kuntze (1891), Pleomele reflexa (Lam.) N.E.Br. (1914), Lomatophyllum reflexum (Lam.) Bojer (1837)
Synonyms of Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia (7) (Updated on 11-15-22 from POWO): Cordyline marginata (Lam.) Endl. (1842), Dracaena gracilis Salisb. (1796), Dracaena madagascariensis W.Bull (1884), Dracaena marginata Lam. (1786), Dracaena tessellata Willd. (1809)(nom. illeg.), Draco marginata (Lam.) Kuntze (1891), Pleomele marginata (Lam.) N.E.Br. (1914)

Dracaena reflexa Lam. is the accepted scientific name of this species. It was named and described as such by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck in Encyclopedie Methodique in 1786. The synonym, Dracaena marginata, was also named by Mr. Lamarck… 

Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia Baker is the accepted infraspecific name for this plant. It was named and described as such by John Gilbert Baker in the Journal of the Linnean Society in 1875. There are 13 accepted infraspecific names of Dracaena reflexa listed on Plants of the World Online by Kew.

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

Plants of the World Online by Kew lists the scientific name of the genus as Dracaena Vand. ex L.. The Link to the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) says Dracaena Vand. Tropicos list the genus as Dracaena L. Actually, Domingo Vandelli named the genus Draco. Carl von Linnaeus renamed the genus Dracaena and described it as such in Mantissa Plantarum in 1767 using Vandelli’s description. The Biodiversity Heritage Library explains Mantissa Plantarum was originally published as an appendix to volume 2 of the 12th edition of Systema Naturae in 1767. The second Mantissa Plantarum was published separately in 1771.


Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia at 45″ tall on 7-2-12, #105-5.

Let’s begin with the first two photos above. Suzanne, the lady I worked for in Mississippi who passed away (which is a completely different story) bought several plants from Lowe’s in 2009 before she passed. Two of those plants were Dracaena but the label did not indicate what species.

This is the plant labeled Dracaena marginata ‘bi-color’ with the tri-colored leaves. This photo was taken on 8-25-12, #116-22.

Then in 2012, I bought two other plants that were labeled Dracaena marginata ‘Marginata’ and Dracaena marginata ‘bi-color’. I know that’s what they said because that is the way the photos are labeled that I uploaded in 2012. When I did my initial research, I thought they should have been a ‘bi-color’ and ‘tri-color’. It has been several years, so I cannot even pretend to know where I came up with that assumption, but undoubtedly it was something online. But, for the record, the one labeled ‘Marginata’ has bi-color leaves and many websites call it by several names. The one labeled ‘bi-color’ actually has tri-colored leaves and it is online as ’tri-color’.

This is the plant labeled Dracaena marginata ‘Marginata’ with bi-color leaves. This photo was taken on 8-25-12 when I bought them. #116-23.

OH, I need to point out the two older plants have solid green leaves. Most information online talks about plants with red edges. That’s what confused me a little. Also, the leaves on the older plants are much shorter than the last two I bought. So, tell me, are they the same species or what? I didn’t think so at first because of the leaves.

Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia. This is the plant labeled Dracaena marginata ‘Marginata’ on 2-17-13, #139-30.

Just remember, the correct scientific name is Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia NOT Dracaena marginata.

This is the plant labeled Dracaena marginata ‘bi-color’ with tri-colored leaves on 2-17-13, #139-31.

When many people buy small cute plants at the garden center they don’t realize what they can become. Dracaena are definitely one of those plants. After a while, those cute little plants become trees and can look somewhat strange. The leaves growing along the stem (or trunk) will fall off leaving a slender stem with a tuft of leaves at the top.

Family: Asparagaceae
Origin: Madagascar
Zones: USDA Zones 10-12 
Size: Up to 6’ or even 20’
Light: Part-shade
Soil: Well-drained soil
Water: Medium
Uses: Potted plant where not hardy.

I gave up my Dracaena to a good friend and fellow plant collector when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in 2013. Maybe someday I will buy a few more. They do make nice plants, especially when they are small, that can grow into large specimens. They aren’t for everyone, though, and some may think they are ugly when they are larger. Like my grandmother always said, “to each his own.”

There are many websites that list these plants as Dracaena marginata if you are looking for information or plants to purchase.

I hope you found this page useful or maybe a little confusing. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. If you can’t think of anything to say, please leave a “like” so I will know you visited this page.


6 comments on “Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia (Syn. D. marginata) (Dragon Tree)

  1. Beautiful plants!!!


  2. Kim Burke says:

    I recently bought plant from Lowes . It was on clearance so.im.not sure if I can revive it or not. Please give me pointers on what to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kim! Glad to hear you rescued one of these from the clearance rack. I don’t know what condition your plant is in, but they aren’t hard to take care of if they are healthy to start with. All the leaves fell off of the two bigger plants once but they re-grew. I don’t know how large your plant is, but if it needs to be repotted you might want to wait until spring. Information online says they like moist soil, but not wet. Honestly, the soil in my plant’s pots dried out plenty of times and it never bothered them. If the leaves start to yellow, it is a sign they are too wet. They like bright light but not full sun.

      I don’t know how big your plant is already, but if they are still small like the ones in the last few photos on the page, they will grow. As they grow longer stems, the lower leaves will fall off. I have seen these plants MUCH bigger than mine with just few leaves on the tops of the stems. If they get tall and weird (floppy), you can cut the stem (s) to a desired height and they will grow new leaves. Sometimes they might need trimming.

      I hope this helps. I guess I should have added growing information on the page, but I added a few links to other websites that can help with that. If you need any more help, just comment again or send an email. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comment. Take care and good luck!


  3. SC says:

    Can you tell me what type of transplanter it requires?

    Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment. I would like to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.