Cucumber-tree

Silhouette - cucumber-tree
  • Latin name: Magnolia acuminata L.
  • French name: Magnolia acuminé
  • Synonym(s): Cucumber magnolia
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 18071
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf - cucumber-tree

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate, simple
  • Abruptly tapered to a short, sharp tip
  • Rounded to slightly tapered at the base
  • Very thin
  • Lower surface lightly hairy
  • Principal veins prominent, branched, widely spaced
  • About 10 per side
  • Stipules shed soon after bud burst

Length

  • 10–25 cm

Width

  • Widest near the middle

Margin

  • Smooth

Petiole

  • Flattened and split toward the base

 

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - cucumber-tree

Form

  • Terminal bud present
  • Solitary hairy bud scale
  • Remnant of an aborted leaf visible at the base
  • Lateral buds much smaller, with tuft of hair at the tip of each
  • Leaf scars horseshoe-shaped, with 5–9 vein scars

Length

  • Terminal bud 15–20 mm

Twigs

  • Winter twig - cucumber-tree

Form

  • Stout, aromatic
  • Pith solid, round in cross section
  • Dwarf shoots present on branchlets

Colour

  • Reddish-brown to greyish
  • Pith white

 

Flowers

Form

  • Large, bell-shaped
  • Not as conspicuous as other magnolias

Length

  • Petals 5–8 cm

Colour

  • Petals greenish-yellow

Structure

  • Synoecious

Floral timing

  • When the leaves reach their full size

 

Fruits

  • Fruit (left); seed (center); longitudinal section through fruit (right) - cucumber-tree

Form

  • Cone-like, composed of small, fleshy, pod-like follicles
  • Spirally arranged on a stout stalk
  • Somewhat resembling a cucumber
  • Folicles split along one side at maturity

Length

  • 5–8 cm

Colour

  • Follicles green, becoming reddish at maturity

Structure

  • Follicle

 

Seeds

Form

  • 1 or 2 large shiny seeds hang for a time on slender threads

Colour

  • Orange or scarlet seeds on white threads

Bark

Form

  • Furrowed into long, narrow, flattish, scaly ridges

Colour

  • Greyish-brown

 

Wood

Texture

  • Soft, weak
  • Durable and easily worked

Morphology

  • Diffuse-porous, close-grained

Size

Height

  • To 25 m

Diameter

  • To 75 cm

 

Tree form

  • Silhouette - cucumber-tree

Forest-grown

Crown

  • Broadly pyramidal
  • Upper branches curved upward
  • Lower branches droop

Root system

  • Deep

Habitat

Site

  • Rich soils in moist to wet sites
  • Singly or in small groups mixed with other broadleaf trees

Light tolerance

  • Intolerant of shade

Associated species

  • Oak, ash, tulip-tree, maple, and beech

Range

In Canada, only in southern parts of Ontario north of Lake Erie

Other

Medium-sized trees

COSEWIC Status

Endangered (threatened with imminent extirpation throughout its Canadian range)

Photos
  • Cucumber-tree
  • Cucumber-tree
  • Cucumber-tree
  • Cucumber-tree
Distribution map
Distribution map - cucumber-tree
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