The dragon tree is extremely slow-growing, taking 8 - 11 years to reach just 2 – 3 feet. The oldest individual is thought to be more than 650 years old. The sap of this species is used as colouring matter for varnishes, tooth-pastes, tinctures and plasters
Populations totalling a few hundred trees are found on five of the seven Canary Islands.
The dragon tree is found in dry forests. The plant grows in steep coastal cliffs usually below 200 m altitude. In the Canaries, it can be found in inaccessible cliffs from 100 - 600 m altitude, and in Morocco and Cabo Verde it grows high in the mountains
This species has undergone an extreme decline because of complex problems. It is said that its seeds used to germinate, eaten by a flightless bird and passing through the bird’s gut, but after the extinction of this bird, the seeds couldn't germinate without human manipulation. Serious threats include the introduced rats that feed on the seeds and the goats and rabbits that graze on seedlings and young plants, preventing growth. Habitat loss for agriculture and because of fires has also contributed to declines.