Cucumber Tree

Don’t bother searching for any traditional cucumbers on a cucumber tree.

  • Cucumber trees are a species of tree native exclusively to Yemen’s Socotra, an island off the coast of the Middle East.
  • The scientific name of the cucumber tree is Dendrosicyos socotronus, although it also known as Dendrosicyos socotrana, and it is from the family Cucurbitaceae, the family of gourds and curcurbits.
  • Isaac Bayley Balfour, a Scottish botanist, was the first to scientifically classify the cucumber tree, doing so in 1882.
  • Cucumber trees bloom small tubular flowers that are approximately 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) in diameter, and are a yellow to orange colour.
  • The small green leaves of a cucumber tree are edged with spines that reduce in sharpness as they age and the leaves usually reach a diameter of 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 inches); while the trunk is a mostly white to light grey colour and can reach 1 metre (3.3 feet) or more in diameter.
Cucumber Tree, Vegetation, Trivia, Random Facts, Socotra, Plant, Trunk
A Cucumber Tree
Image courtesy of Stefan Geens/Flickr
  • Cucumber trees grow to be 3 to 6 metres (10 to 20 feet) in height and have a large trunk compared to the small canopy.
  • The cucumber tree is the only species in the Cucurbitaceae family that is a tree, as most others are vines; and the plant can only be propagated by seed.
  • Cucumber trees have fleshy fruit that are somewhat ovoid with pointy ends; and they are an orange-red colour, with similar coloured flesh, when ripe.
  • The trunk of a cucumber tree stores water, rendering it a relatively drought resistant plant; and the plant has been used as a traditional medicine by native locals, to treat a variety of illnesses.
  • Cucumber trees are considered a vulnerable species, threatened primarily for their overuse in supplying feed for livestock during periods of drought.
Dendrosicyos, 2016, Wikipedia,
Dendrosicyos socotranus, n.d, Bihrmann,
 Dendrosicyos socotrana, n.d, California State University, Fullerton,
 Dendrosicyos socotrana, n.d, Succulent Gardening,
Miller A, Dendrosicyos socotrana, 2004, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,
Socotra Cucumber Tree (Dendrosicyos socotrana): Isolated Isle’s Weird Fantastic Vulnerable Tree, 2014, Wizzley,


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