Cucumber Tree

A close-up of a plant.

Magnolia acuminata

Often referred to as the cucumber magnolia, this large tree, native to parts of southern Ontario, is a reliable standout for larger yards and has recently been added to CVC’s Woodland Plant List.

The cucumber tree is Canada’s only native magnolia species and has elegant, yellow-green flowers resembling upside-down bells when they bloom in early spring.

This magnolia grows a straight trunk with a pyramidal-shaped crown that becomes more oval as it ages. Low branches droop down providing graceful, shady cover.

Plant in a sunny location in clay to loam soils away from where salt is spread. Part shade is okay, but avoid places where water accumulates or doesn’t drain well, as cucumber trees dislike standing water. However, they do best with regular rainfall, so be sure to water them at least once a week if it has not rained or in extreme heat.

Fall leaf colour is yellow to brown, but the cucumber-like fruit that starts out green in late summer, matures into a striking red. Despite the tree’s name, the fruit are not edible.

If you have the space, grow with other local trees such as sugar maple and tulip tree, with the showy eastern redbud in front. Groundcovers such as wild ginger, Virginia bluebells and foamflower can be grown beneath.

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