Species At Risk

Cucumber Tree

(Magnolia acuminata)


Cucumber Tree
Cucumber Tree occurrences map


The Cucumber Tree can grow as high as 30 metres. The lower branches swoop down from the trunk and then curve upwards. The large, oval-shaped leaves are simple and smooth edged without teeth. The greenish-yellow solitary flowers grow six to nine centimetres across. The tree is named for the slight resemblance of the immature fruit to a cucumber. The fruit matures in late summer into a cone-like structure composed of many red, fleshy pods, each containing one to two scarlet seeds.

Action we are taking:


The Cucumber Tree ranges from southeastern New York to northern Georgia, with outlying populations occurring from Florida to southern Ontario.

In Ontario, the Cucumber Tree only occurs in Niagara Region and Norfolk County. Field surveys were conducted in these municipalities during the periods 1998-2001 and 2008-2009. As a result 18 populations of Cucumber Tree have been identified in Ontario with approximately 170 to 190 mature trees, plus additional saplings.


In Ontario, Cucumber Trees are found in upland moist deciduous or mixed forest habitats, where they grow in rich, well-drained soils, often in headwater areas or on rises within low swampy areas.


Habitat fragmentation and small population sizes contribute to the isolation of trees at different sites and may have the effect of reducing cross-pollination, gene exchange and seed dispersal. The Cucumber Tree is sensitive to prolonged drought conditions as well as overly wet conditions. Indiscriminate logging and recreational activities that involve ATV use also pose a threat.


The Cucumber Tree and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. This species is also protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Cucumber Tree

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Cucumber Tree. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery. If you find the Cucumber Tree on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.

Did you know?

The Cucumber Tree gets its name from its fruit that is pickle-like in shape and changes from green to red as it ripens. Once ripe, the oily, scented seeds are exposed and hang by fine threads. It is assumed that birds are the main consumers and dispersers of these seeds.

Did you know?

The Cucumber Tree was used by the Cherokee and Iroquois First Nations for a variety of medicinal purposes including alleviating stomach aches and toothaches.

Did you know?

When pollinating insects first enter the flowers of the Cucumber Tree, they cannot escape because of the tiny wax rollers on the surfaces of the petals that cause them to fall back whenever they try to climb out. It is only after the pollen is released that the petals bend back, releasing the pollen-covered insects.

Did you know?

The Cucumber Tree is Ontario’s only native Magnolia species.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.