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Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata L.)

Recovery Strategy for

Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata L.) in Canada


Cucumber Tree

Photo by Donald Kirk

 May 2007

Recovery Strategy for

Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata L.) in Canada

 May 2007



Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada.

In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of Ontario has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery strategy for Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata L.) in Canada under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Details are provided in the addenda of this document.

This recovery strategy is the recovery strategy of the Minister of the Environment of Canada for this species.

May 2007


Recommended Citation

Ambrose, J. & D. Kirk.  2007.  Recovery Strategy for Cucumber Tree (Magnolia

acuminata L.) in Canada.  Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources by the Cucumber Tree Recovery Team,   viii + 24pp. + addenda.

Additional copies:  

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry (

Cover photo: Donald Kirk

Également disponible en français sous le titre

« Programme de rétablissement du magnolia acuminé (Magnolia acuminata L.) au Canada »

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Responsible Jurisdictions

Cucumber Tree occurs in the province of Ontario, and the recovery strategy was developed by the province.  The Canadian Wildlife Service - Ontario Region, on behalf of the competent minister (the Minister of the Environment), cooperated in the development of the recovery strategy

Recovery Team Members and Associated Specialists 

Donald Kirk (Chair)

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

John D. Ambrose

Botanical Consultant

Dave Holmes

Long Point Region Conservation Authority

Peter Kevan

University of Guelph

Richard Reader

University of Guelph

Allen Woodliffe

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Associated Specialists

Ken Elliott

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Mary Gartshore

Ecological Consultant

Dennis Joyce

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 

Steve Scheers

Municipality of Norfolk County


Members of the Recovery Team wish to acknowledge the many landowners who provided information and access to their properties during the recent mapping projects which provided current baseline population information for this recovery strategy.  Jeff Robinson of the Canadian Wildlife Service provided detailed information on a recent inventory of the Long Point population.  The Natural Heritage Information Centre in Peterborough provided copies of their current Element Occurrence records.  Melinda Thompson and Tanya Suggitt provided much technical assistance in the form of database management and GIS support.  Rebecca Hay provided valuable assistance in ensuring all internal and peer review comments were incorporated into the document.  


The Cucumber Tree is under the management jurisdiction of the Ontario provincial government and Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region). 

The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent Minister to prepare a recovery strategy for all listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species.  SARA Section 44(1) allows the Minister to adopt an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (Section 41).

The Cucumber Tree was listed as Endangered under SARA in June 2003.  The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources led the development of this recovery strategy for the species in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region, Environment Canada.  An addenda to this document presents how responsible jurisdictions receive of this strategy. 

Executive Summary  

This Recovery Strategy outlines the objectives and strategies necessary to bring about the protection and recovery of Canadian populations of Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata L.).   The Recovery Strategy is based on a review of literature, historical collections and current population data and consultation with knowledgeable individuals.

Cucumber Tree has a very limited distribution in Canada, occurring in only two areas of southern Ontario.  The total number of naturally occurring trees and saplings is currently 283, following recent intensive census and mapping exercises.  In addition, over 100 seedlings have been counted most of which occur in one single population.  The entire complement of trees represents 12 extant populations (i.e. aggregations of all sub-populations within 1 km) or a total of 22 separate and extant sub-populations.  Limited recruitment within their forest habitats has been observed.  The threat of landscape fragmentation and small population sizes needs to be better understood to refine recovery actions. 

The goal of this Recovery Strategy is to conserve and if necessary restore Cucumber Tree to self-sustaining populations in both regions of its native Canadian range in extreme southwestern Ontario. 

Some of the recovery approaches identified in this Recovery Strategy, beyond protecting what is there, are dependent on current and future research, to better understand the species pollination biology, seed dispersal, seedling establishment and population genetics.  The report outlines and prioritizes research programs necessary to support the implementation of the recovery actions.

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