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Magnolia acuminata

Common Name(s):
Cucumber tree, Cucumbertree magnolia
Cultivar(s):
Yellow Fever
Categories:
Native Plants, Trees
Comment:

Magnolia acuminata, commonly known as cucumber tree, is native to eastern North America, reaching its largest size in the southern Appalachian Mountains. This is a deciduous magnolia that produces slightly-fragrant, greenish-yellow, tulip-like flowers (2-4” long) at the twig tips in late spring, but is named for the green, warty, cucumber-like fruits (seedcones) that follow the flowers. Cone-like fruits mature to a showy red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity. Cucumber tree is a straight-trunked tree that typically grows 40-70’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a pyramidal crown. Trunk diameter of mature trees can reach 3-4’, with furrowed dark gray-brown bark.

Regions:  Mountains, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves:   Fall     Bloom:  Spring     Fruit/Seed/Nut: Late Summer

Wildlife Value:  The Cucumber tree is moderately resistant to the damage done by deer.  Twigs and buds are browsed by white-tailed deer.  Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems.

Height:
50-100 ft.
Flower:
The Cucumber tree is a deciduous magnolia that produces slightly-fragrant, greenish-yellow, tulip-like flowers (2-4” long) at the twig tips in late spring, but is named for the green, warty, cucumber-like fruits (seedcones) that follow the flowers. Cone-like fruits mature to a showy red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity.
Zones:
4-8
Habit:
Deciduous
Site:
The Cucumber tree is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. It is generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet), but intolerant of most urban pollutants. It may take 12 or more years before first blooms appear.
Texture:
Medium to coarse
Form:
Pyramidal in youth; rounded to broad with spreading branches
Exposure:
Sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil; does not tolerate drought or wet soil
Fruit:
3-5 in. slightly fragrant greenish yellow flowers in spring; small knobby fruit resembles a cucumber; red seeds attract birds
Width:
50-80 ft.
Growth Rate:
Moderate to rapid
Leaf:
The Cucumber tree has alternate, simple ovate, yellow-green leaves (6 to 10” long) and are pointed at the tip (acuminate), but not classic narrow-tapering acuminate form. Unlike most magnolias, this tree often produces respectable fall color (gold).
Tags:
showy flowers, showy fruit, deciduous, fall color, birds, attracts birds, fragrant, pink seeds, wildlife

NCCES plant id: 507

Magnolia acuminata Magnolia acuminata
Magnolia acuminata Magnolia acuminata