Dracaena Trifasciata vs Sansevieria – We Explain the Difference

As if botanical names for plants weren’t hard enough to remember (and pronounce). Now they want to change names for an entire genus, from Sansevieria to Dracaena!

Dracaena Trifasciata vs Sansevieria


  • The genus name for snake plants has been reclassified from Sansevieria Trifasciata to Dracaena Trifasciata.
  • The name change took effect in 2017/18 due to observed similar characteristics between the Dracaena genus and snake plants.
  • There are mixed feelings toward the name change, with some gardeners refusing to adopt the new name.

If there is one thing that rings true in the evolution of the snake plant name, it is that change is inevitable.

credit: giphy

For some gardeners, the change in genus classification for the humble snake plant from Sansevieria to Dracaena is a friction point. Some gardeners outright refuse to accept the change and continue referring to snake plants with their original designation, Sansevieria.

For others, it is simply a new tongue twister that they must learn to identify their houseplants correctly.

We explore the Dracaena Trifasciata vs. Sansevieria debate, the change, and the competing opinions in the plants and garden space.

So strap in, put your debating monocle on and let’s get into it.

Sansevieria is now Dracaena

Dracaena Vs. Sansevieria – What Happened?

In case it isn’t apparent yet, there has been a bit of change in the snake plant space.

After years of referring to different varieties of snake plants belonging to the Sansevieria genus, a guiding body (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group) decided to turn snake plants on their head and reclassify them into the Dracaena genus.

Other members of the Dracaena genus include well-known plants such as lucky bamboo and asparagus.

Back in the day, it was common practice to name newly discovered plants after esteemed figures in the community. It was a symbol of honor and celebration of their achievements. In this vein, snake plants were designated the Sansevieria name to recognize the Italian scientist Raimondo di Sangro.

And the name stuck around. That is, until 2017-18, when the APG decided to simplify matters and merge the Sansevieria genus into the Dracaena family.

Now, the intelligent people at APG didn’t just decide to reclassify snake plants on a whim. They recognized the parallels in genetic characteristics and botanical similarities between the two families. Which ultimately rendered the Sansevieria genus redundant.

Check out this YouTube by Summer Rayne Oakes, who interviewed a few leading botanists about the change.

What Does the Gardening Community Think?

A change wouldn’t be change without it upsetting some people.

And boy, did the Sansevieria to Dracaena change ruffle some feathers.

Check out the description of the Reddit Sansevieria group we are a member of:

Reddit forum description Sansevieria

They raise a good point. Because snake plants and their former name, Sansevieria, are synonymous, a lot of information will still retain the old title. When people research Dracaena Trifacsiata, they may not find the information they are looking for.

What Does This Mean For You?

So, which one should you adopt? Dracaena Trifasciata vs Sansevieria?

The choice is yours.

What we do know is that the change has happened, and it is here to stay.

So if you are new to the gardening space, we’d recommend embracing the change and referring to snake plants by their official name, Dracaena. Why learn something that is already redundant?

Maybe it shows our age. However, we personally still favor the Sansevieria designation. There is no logical reason why. It is possible because it is what we have grown up knowing and are ultimately comfortable with.

We know we will eventually have to transition to the newly accepted Dracaena name – give us some time.

credit: tenor