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Cucumber Tree Growing Profile


Picture of the Cucumber Tree Image by magnolia1000 via Flickr used under a Creative Commons Attribution license


The cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata) is a large deciduous magnolia tree that is native to North America. It features attractive yellow-green flowers and fruit that is similar in appearance to cucumbers, inspiring the name.

Latin Name:

This is actually a type of magnolia tree and has been given the name of Magnolia acuminata and classified as part of the Magnoliaceae family.

Common Names:

Names that you may see used for this species are cucumber tree, blue magnolia, yellow-flower magnolia, cucumbertree, cucumber magnolia or yellow cucumbertree.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

The best zones for this species are 4-8. If you have a sheltered location in Zone 3, you may be able to grow this tree. It originally comes from eastern North America.

Size & Shape:

At maturity the cucumber tree will be 40-80' tall and 20-80' wide. In the wild it can be over 100' tall. In its youth it is pyramidal in shape, becoming more rounded as the years go by.


You should find a spot in your garden that receives full sun to part shade.


The ovate or elliptical leaves can be up to one foot long. In the fall they change to gold or brown before falling.

The flowers are somewhat similar in appearance and coloring to the related tulip tree. They are pollinated by beetles.

The immature fruits are the inspiration for the common name of cucumber tree. They change over time to become reddish in hue.

Design Tips:

'Variegata' features green leaves with yellow variegations.

Growing Tips:

Watering should be even so the tree's roots are neither too wet nor too dry.

This tree may be hard to transplant due to its extensive root system.


This tree does not usually require regular pruning. Any trimming should be done once flowering has occurred.


The cucumber tree may sometimes be attacked by leafrollers and scales.


There usually are not any major diseases associated with this magnolia species. You will sometimes see gray mold or Verticillium wilt.


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