Dracaena surculosa var. ‘Punctulata’

spotted dracaena


Dracaena surculosa var. 'Punctulata'

Lindl. 1828

pronounced: dra-KEE-nuh sur-ku-LOH-suh variety punk-tu-LAH-tuh

(Asparagaceae — the asparagus family)


common names: spotted dracaena, Japanese bamboo

Dracæna is Latin for a she-dragon; surculosa is from the Latin surculus, a young twig or branch, a graft or sucker. The variety name, Punctulata, is from the Latin punctulatus, spotted.

At first sight one wouldn’t consider this plant, a native of western tropical Africa, to be a Dracaena, as it does not have the long, strap-like leaves of most other members of the genus. Its leaves are a slender oval shape, up to about 20 cm in length and mostly medium to dark green, quite subtly spotted in yellowish green or chartreuse. Some leaves on the plant are usually unspotted. The leaf spots fade to a yellowish lemon as the leaves age. This tall and vigorous-growing cultivar puts out lots of bamboo-like canes, is very hardy, and accepts both heavy pruning and neglect. Some of the cultivars of this species have leaves that look as if they have been dusted with gold, and some are striped. It is quite a remarkable looking plant.

The plant produces clusters, 7–8 cm long, of whitish flowers that are sweetly scented in the late evenings. These are followed by small roundish berries in a brilliant reddish orange that contrast sharply with the foliage colour.

This is a very popular plant in Malaysia, where it is known as Buluh Jepun – Japanese Bamboo.

It likes bright conditions without direct sun, although a few hours of direct sun a day will be tolerated when the plant is fully mature. A lightly shaded place will also be tolerated, but either too dark a situation or too sunny a one will usually cause leaf drop. Given the right conditions, this plant will often reach 3.5 m in height – even indoors! When it is grown in the garden, small birds will sometimes build nests in its foliage.

Especially when these plants are grown in containers indoors or on patios and decks, an occasional shower is needed to remove dust from the foliage, and a trim along old stems will rejuvenate growth. Some gardeners prune the ‘canes’ at various heights, and new foliage will emerge at the various levels to make the plant even more interesting. The plant likes to be a little pot-bound, so it should not be repotted in too large a container.

dangerous 2The plant and its fruits are poisonous to many animals, including cats and dogs.

Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2008, 2009
Page last updated 16th December 2018