The Canary Islands are part of a whole group of archipelagos, rich in endemic species, located in an area stretching from Cape St. Vincent in Portugal to the Atlantic coasts of Morocco, known as Macaronesia (comprising the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verde), a term of Greek origin meaning Fortunate Islands, which is how the classics knew these islands located at the confines of the then known world.
Since ancient times, travellers had come to these islands in search of a dragon whose blood had healing properties. The dragon's blood, however, was not extracted from this legendary animal, but from a tree that in any case takes its name from this fantastic being, the dragon tree. The confusion comes from the colour of the sap of this tree, which turns red on contact with air and thus resembles blood, so it was thought that it could be used medicinally for anything to do with blood, for example closing wounds, if not for prolonging life; thus, in Ancient Egypt it seems to have been used for embalming and mummification. The very longevity of these trees, such as the spectacular specimen from Icod de los Vinos in Tenerife, which is said to be 3,000 years old, may justify the fact that for centuries "dragon's blood" has been seen as a magical elixir that prolongs life.
Because of its powerful symbolism, the dragon tree is therefore an emblematic tree of the Canary Islands, of those fortunate islands associated since ancient times with Paradise. It is interesting in this respect that in a painting contemporary to Magellan's expedition, the panel referring to Eden in Bosch's spectacular triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, the representation of a dragon tree appears as part of that Paradise, together with Adam and Eve. Although recent research suggests that the painter did not initially include the dragon tree in the original composition, what is important is that whoever painted it considered that if there is a Paradise, it should include this tree whose sap seems to favour eternal life.