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Magnolia acuminata (Cucumbertree)
Makin, Julie

Magnolia acuminata

Magnolia acuminata (L.) L.

Cucumbertree, Cucumber Tree, Mountain Magnolia

Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)

Synonym(s): Magnolia acuminata var. cordata, Magnolia acuminata var. ozarkensis, Magnolia acuminata var. subcordata, Magnolia cordata, Tulipastrum acuminatum, Tulipastrum cordatum


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The hardiest of all magnolias, Cucumber Tree is a large, round-topped, deciduous tree that can grow 60-75+ ft. tall and wide. Its leaves, from 6-10 in. long, are deep-green in summer and yellow-brown in fall. Flowers are variable in showiness. The tepals of most specimens open only to a vertical orientation about 2 in. across, though some open more fully. Many are greenish or greenish-white in color, though showier white- and yellow-flowered forms exist. They are followed by a cucumber-like fruit which turns from green to red. The flowers and fruit are often missed because they occur at the top of the tree.

Cucumber Tree is the only magnolia native to Canada. It is extremely rare in Ontario and is threatened with extirpation throughout its Canadian range. (bibref: 1258)


From the Image Gallery

22 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 75 feet tall, sometimes taller.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, cone-like aggregated follicles.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: W. NY, s. Ont., s. IN, s. IL & s. MO, s. to FL & LA
Native Habitat: Rich, wooded slopes; stream banks; uplands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rich, moist, acidic soils.
Conditions Comments: This is a good specimen tree with a medium growth rate. Use cucumber tree only in an area where the huge leaves, dropping thoughout the late summer and fall, are not a maintenance problem. This tree is affected by few diseases or pests however it does not withstand extreme drought or wetness or pollution. Mature trees are reluctant to heal wounds or cleaning cuts.


Use Wildlife: Many fruits fall to the ground with their seeds still enclosed and become forage for towhees and other ground-feeding birds, as well as small mammals.
Use Food: Flower buds and flowers are edible, and may have provided a minor food source to First Nations and white settlers. (Athenic)
Use Medicinal: First Nations People used bark extracts as analgesics, antidiarrheal, cold and toothache remedy. (Athenic)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds


Seed Collection: Remove seeds from fruit shortly after harvest and handle with care. Excessive drying or heat can damage seeds.
Seed Treatment: Cold-stratify for 3-6 months.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1258 - Trees of Ontario (2007) Kershaw, Linda

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Magnolia acuminata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Magnolia acuminata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Magnolia acuminata


Record Modified: 2023-04-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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