Common Name: cucumber tree
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 40.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 35.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Greenish yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet). Intolerant of most urban pollutants. May take 12 or more years before first blooms appear.
Magnolia acuminata, commonly known as cucumber tree, is native to eastern North America, reaching its largest size in the southern Appalachian Mountains. It is the only magnolia that is native to Missouri where it typically occurs in moist soils in wooded valleys, bluff bases and thickets along the Mississippi River in the far southern part of the state (Steyermark). 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. Ovate, yellow-green leaves (to 10” long) are, as the specific epithet suggests, pointed at the tip (acuminate), but not classic narrow-tapering acuminate form. Unlike most magnolias, this tree often produces respectable fall color (gold).
Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).
Specific epithet means pointed at the tip.
No serious insect or disease problems.
One of the few magnolias that will serve as a shade or lawn tree. Needs a large space. Parks.