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Is Fluoride killing Tenerife's Dragon Trees in the Canary Islands?

Updated on December 19, 2012

Dragon Trees on Tenerife are dying - is Fluoride causing this?

Tenerife in the Canary Islands has a very rare tree that dates back to prehistoric times and has become a plant symbol for the island with the Drago Milenario (thousand-year-old Dragon Tree) that grows in Icod de los Vinos being famous worldwide as the oldest specimen of the species and a major tourist attraction. In the wild the Dragon Trees (Dracaena draco) have nearly died out from a variety of causes, including past destruction of the trees to harvest the resin and wood and due to development and habitat destruction, but now the ones grown for ornamental purposes in gardens and parks are also under serious threat.

Diseased and dying Dragon Trees

Dying Dragon Tree with leaves pruned in an effort to save it
Dying Dragon Tree with leaves pruned in an effort to save it
Scale insect infestation
Scale insect infestation
Showing blotches on leaves of Dragon Tree watered with tap water
Showing blotches on leaves of Dragon Tree watered with tap water

Healthy Dragon Trees

Dragon Tree in Cueva del Viento
Dragon Tree in Cueva del Viento
Drago Milenario in Parque del Drago in Icod de los Vinos
Drago Milenario in Parque del Drago in Icod de los Vinos

Is Fluoride killing the Dragon Trees?

All around Tenerife the Dragon Trees are diseased and dying and many have already died and been removed. Officially employed gardeners and tree surgeons have been doing their best to save the trees by pruning back all the diseased foliage but often it is too late and the growing point in the crown is too weak and dies. After that the rest of the tree follows suit.

This is a real tragedy because Dragon Trees are notoriously slow in growing and can take ten years or more before they flower for the first time and actually are starting to look like a tree. Dragon Trees start off with a rosette of spiky leaves and the trunk is formed as the dragon tree plant grows upwards and the leaves fall away as they die or are pruned.

Dragon Trees only branch after flowering but can reach enormous sizes with the passage of time. Sadly in Tenerife many are losing their lives very early for this species.

Dracaena in Latin means "female dragon" and there are many types. Other types of Dracaena are commonly grown as houseplants and in ornamental gardens.

The Dragon Tree is astrologically ruled by Mars because of the red sap it exudes and because of its reddish berries, spiky leaves and ability to withstand drought and difficult conditions. The Dragon Tree is a real plant warrior and Mars is the God of War but it is currently losing the battle.

So what is going wrong? Well, the Dragon Trees are getting plastered in sap-sucking scale insects and are also being attacked by a fungus, probably a species of Fusarium, causing brown spotting and weakening of the leaves.

It appears that this tough tree that has been around since prehistoric times has become weakened and its immunity is no longer able to fight off its attackers. It seems very likely to me that this has been caused by fluoride, which is in the domestic water supplies here.

Because the island has very little rain for most of the year most gardens and parks and public borders have to be watered regularly from hosepipes or water out of the tap. It is well known that species of Dracaena are highly susceptible to poisoning by fluoride, a toxin increasingly being used in public water in many countries supposedly to help prevent dental decay. This is very important to know if you are wishing to find out about dragon tree care and growing a dragon tree houseplant.

The truth of the matter is that fluoride is a toxic by-product of the aluminium industry. It was also used by the Nazis because it was known to cause docility among people who were consuming it and sterility.

It is believed in conspiracy theory that the powers-that-be are trying to achieve both these harmful effects because they are seeking a population that is easily controlled and are actually also wanting to drastically reduce our numbers in a human cull. It looks like the Dragon Tree is getting killed off in the process too.


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    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      11 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks, I have received your address and will try and send some over next week. They take about 3 weeks to a month to germinate and you need to soak them for a day before planting. And don't give them water with fluoride if you can help it once they are up!

    • IzzyM profile image


      11 years ago from UK

      Cheers, mate, have emailed you (twice lol).

      Honestly the Valencianos here in this village are a bunch of numpties. Not just my opinion. My Spanish partner thinks so too.

      Ahhh...Dragon Trees don't grow here. Bet I can change that;)

      I've got sycamore trees growing here and they said it couldn't be done! lol

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      11 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I can send you some seeds if you email me your address. Fluoride is supposed to be added gradually but I have heard of it done wrongly like you describe here. Twice there have been news stories when it has been admitted that the level in the public water was too much and people were advised not to drink or cook with the tap water! Are the people in charge of it stupid or what?

      Dragon Trees don't grow naturally in mainland Spain and hardly grow in the wild here now but there are plenty in parks and gardens, although many are sick.

    • IzzyM profile image


      11 years ago from UK

      I haven't seen a dragon tree here so I guess they have all been killed off:(

      I live in a small mountainous village and the man responsible for adding fluoride to the water supply seems to choose to put a monthly amount in, in one day. You know when he's done it, as even the shower water smells strongly of fluoride. Why it can't be added slowly and steady I don't know. I don't like fluoride but it's preferable to having to boil all drinking water! BTW I grow plants from seed and would love some Dragon tree seeds if any becomes available:)

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      11 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I hope there some trees left there! It's not just in the rainforests that trees are being destroyed it is everywhere!

    • profile image

      Am I dead, yet? 

      11 years ago

      This is also a nice and informative hub. I know of what you mean with the Dragon Trees here in New Orleans, there are some being uprooted on the lakefront here. I always wondered when I was a kid what kind, exactly were those trees, sad realization of what has become. I think I will drive to the lakefront to see what is left. There were renovations going on, I will be sad if they are gone.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      11 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Jarn, yes, fluoride makes people docile - ideal for control purposes and if you don't want people who go along with the oppressive crap dished out, ideal if you don't want demonstrations and mass protests!

      Pete and Watch Tower, the situation is a new one - the trees have only started dying like this in the past year or so and my theory is that the fluoride is weakening them because as the links provided show Dracaenas cannot tolerate it.

      Fluoride has been added to the water supplies here and has actually made the press on several occasions when the authorities issued an alert to say too much had gone into the supplies for a list of districts and people were advised not to use this for drinking or cooking. The trees are commonly planted in borders along roads, in gardens, parks, in town squares etc and these areas are all watered regularly.

      The south of the island is more or less dependent on this artificial means of keeping plants alive. If you took away the water the place would revert to arid desert and and scrubland. In the north there is more natural water from rain in winter and moisture from clouds all year round but many endemic plants to not grow in the summer and many die back or become dormant. People expect to see luxuriant growth, flowers and greenery.

      Dragon Trees naturally will grow on cliffs and mountainsides and don't need a lot of water but they take even longer to grow in these conditions and there are only a small number in the wild now.

      There are two sources of water here - domestic water supplies and water for farmers from holding tanks and reservoirs and much of it is piped from underground sources and from in the mountains. The usual way public gardens and borders are watered is by hose pipes and sprinklers that connect with the mains supplies along all roads.

      The additional problem that I have noted is the scale insects. It is possible this is a new insect pest on the island but it seems doubtful. The whole place suffers from terrible attacks by white fly, aphids, meally bugs, spider mite, and other pests and the amounts of insecticide used here are ridiculous but people don't know what else to do.

      All the very sick trees are covered in scale insects but sick trees are often displaying brown spots and yellowing in the leaves consistent with fluoride damage or some sort of fungal attack as well.

      The official means of treating is to cut of the leaves in the hope that that will get rid of most of the infestation and will force the tree to produce new leaves in the growing point. This pruning is also standard for palms which have the lower leaves chopped off.

      An additional problem is that trees are moved about and planted ready grown and are then subjected to waterings to get them to root. Sometimes the shock of moving is too much and they fail.It is common to see palms that have died from this cause. There is a process of ongoing development, building and road-making here and once something is created the practise is is to plant some borders with ornamental ready-grown. shrubs and trees.

      All seeds germinate easily but the Dragon Tree is exceedingly slow in growing and appears like an Agave or Aloe as a spiky rossette for several years before it grows upwards at all. Pruning speeds this up as it does with palms.

      There is actually a Dragon Tree that grew from a seed I sent over to a friend in the US and the little tree in a garden survived Katrina but many much bigger ones are not surviving here.


    • Jarn profile image


      11 years ago from Sebastian, Fl

      So is because it makes people docile the reason that it's commonly found in the drinking water supplies of large cities?

    • Watch Tower profile image

      Watch Tower 

      11 years ago from New Zealand

      Could it be a simple case of Over watering, You mentioned that the island has very little natural rain fall, this can not nbe a recent thing, Thus suggesting that the tree grows in dry conditions, only requiring a little water though out the year.

      It would be great if a group was able to get the seeds and plant them out in the wild away from the councils fluoride water, allowing nature to take its course. I would be suspicious of buying seeds sold in packets, as I suspect, they would be altered so as not to produce germination seeds, as has been done with many plants and crop seeds. thus making the customer reliant on the retailer

      Here in New Zealand the introduction of fluoride into the water, was done before I was even born. I can never drink more than a small glass or tape water, as it causes me nausea, So I simply have to BUY :-( bottle water with no etc chemicals save those from the spring it has been pumped from, Lucky New Zealand ahas a number of these springs.

    • Pete Maida profile image

      Pete Maida 

      11 years ago

      Something has to be done to save the trees. I would think a treasure like this would get some world wide attention. I would think they could be watered from a separate source to get pure water to these trees.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      11 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for posting, Ivorwen and RooBee!

      "What can be done?" For the trees, very little! The council here that pay workers to prune and remove dying and dead trees at the same time approve the fluoride that goes in the water supply!

      I may try getting an article in the Tenerife News though. They once published an expose I wrote about fluoride and I got to reply to someone who complained about it.

      I don't know what will happen if their prized tourist attraction thousand-year-old tree starts dying though. The island has already lost its other very ancient specimens some years back due to storms.

      The whole situation is crazy! The Dragon Tree is a supposedly protected species under Annexe II of the Flora Order and the Berne Agreement (Annexe I) and yet the berries, which each contain a seed, are regularly pruned off and thrown away or swept up and discarded although at the same time you can buy a packet of two or three seeds in a shop for just over 1€! Or go to garden centre and buy a ready germinated baby tree or a bigger one for a lot more.

    • RooBee profile image

      Arby Bourne 

      11 years ago from USA

      A few years back, they approved flouridating the drinking supply where I live and I was apalled. Here's yet another testament to why it's such an awful idea. Of course, perhaps it was a great idea depending on what you believe and which perch you're sitting on! Makes me sick and sad to think of losing these beautiful Dragon Trees, in any case.

      Many species of trees are dying out from vulnerabilities believed to be brought about by all these horrible chemicals people use for all sorts of purposes. They are giving us a "canary in the mineshaft" sort of heads-up about what we've been doing..

      Thanks for sharing this. Very well-written, of course.

    • Ivorwen profile image


      11 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      I had known the Nazis used fluoride, but didn't know it's side effect! It is too bad for the trees. What can be done?


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