Dragon's Blood - Encyclopedia

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DRAGON'S BLOOD, a red-coloured resin obtained from several species of plants. Calamus draco (Wilid.), one of the rotang or rattan palms, which produces much of the dragon's blood of commerce, is a native of Further India and the Eastern Archipelago. The fruit is round, pointed, scaly, and the size of a large cherry, and when ripe is coated with the resinous exudation known as dragon's blood. The finest dragon's blood, called jernang or djernang in the East Indies, is obtained by beating or shaking the gathered fruits, sifting out impurities, and melting by exposure to the heat of the sun or by placing in boiling water; the resin thus purified is then usually moulded into sticks or quills, and of ter being wrapped in reeds or palm-leaves, is ready for market. An impurer and inferior kind, sold in lumps of considerable size, is extracted from the fruits by boiling. Dragon's blood is dark red-brown, nearly opaque and brittle, contains small shell-like flakes, and gives when ground a fine red powder; it is soluble in alcohol, ether, and fixed and volatile oils. If heated it gives off benzoic acid. In Europe it was once valued as a medicine on account of its astringent properties, and is now used for colouring varnishes and lacquers; in China, where it is mostly consumed, it is employed to give a red facing to writing paper. The drop dragon's blood of commerce, called cinnabar by Pliny (N.H. xxxiii. 39), and sangre de dragon by Barbosa was formerly and is still one of the products of Socotra, and is obtained from Dracaena cinnabari. The dragon's blood of the Canary Islands is a resin procured from the surface of the leaves and from cracks in the trunk of Dracaena draco. The hardened juice of a euphorbiaceous tree, Croton draco, a resin resembling kino, is the sangre del drago or dragon's blood of the Mexicans, used by them as a vulnerary and astringent.

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