Magnolia acuminata var. subcordata 'Miss Honeybee'
Common Name: magnolia
Type: Tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Light to medium yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy

Culture

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.

Noteworthy Characteristics

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).

Var. subcordata is smaller than the species growing 20 to 30 ft. tall. Its leaves are smaller, broader and a more lustrous dark green. Commonly called yellow cucumber tree, the flowers emerge with the leaves, are more tulip-shaped and closer to yellow in color.

Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).

Specific epithet means pointed at the tip.

'Miss Honeybee' is a compact large shrub or small tree with dark green, 4 to 7 in. long leaves. In early spring just before or just as the leaves emerge, it has fragrant, light to medium yellow, cup-shaped flowers with a peach reverse that mature into green, cucumber-shaped fruit composed of several orange to red seeds. It grows 20 to 25 ft. tall and 15 to 20 ft. wide. 'Miss Honeybee' is used in hybridizing and is one of the parents of Magnolia 'Gold Star' and M. 'Goldfinch'.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

One of the few magnolias that will serve as a shade or lawn tree. Needs a large space. Parks.