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Friday, November 6, 2009

Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans)

Also known as Corn plant or Chinese Money Tree it belongs to the plant family Ruscaceae that looks like a corn stalk.
Native to West Africa, it is now wide spread across the globe due to its popularity as an indoor house plant. It is adaptable to a wide range of conditions, from full sun to low interior light conditions and grows best in half shaded areas.
It is easily propagated by cutting off segments of old canes a few inches long and then allowed to dry. Once sufficiently dried they are inserted into moist sand until rooted and new growth will emerge from old leaf scars.
The wild Dracaena fragrans has green leaves that can reach up to 3 feet long and 4 inches wide, often seen with a height that reaches almost 20 foot tall. However, once potted their size is stunted with slow growth and that is where I think its popularity as an indoor or house plant takes off.
Other varieties seen have leaves broadly striped with light green and yellow down the center.
When they flower and usually only very mature specimens do so, the white flowers are highly fragrant especially in the evenings, hence deriving the name fragrans. Contrary to popular believe, the plant does not wither after flowering but continues to grow.
Other properties of Dracaena fragrans not widely known, includes the plant used in the NASA Clean Air Study that shows it can help remove Formaldehyde from the environment, indicating it would also make a good natural air scrubber for the home.

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