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 Symbol: MAAC
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
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.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, cone-like aggregated follicles.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationSeed 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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
BibliographyBibref 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 ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Magnolia acuminata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Magnolia acuminata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Magnolia acuminata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-04-13
Research By: TWC Staff