NC Native Plant Society:
Plant Details

Magnolia acuminata

Cucumber Magnolia, Cucumber-tree, Mountain Magnolia

Scientific Name:

Magnolia acuminata



Species Epithet:


Common Name:

Cucumber Magnolia, Cucumber-tree, Mountain Magnolia

Plant Type


Life Cycle


Plant Family

Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)


NC Native

Invasive Status:



36-72 ft.

Bloom Color(s):

Yellow, Green


Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:


Bloom Time:

April, May, June

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills

Habitat Description:

This species favors mesic, and somewhat rich, forests, typically on slopes over circumneutral soils, but in the mountains it can occur in more mesic and less high pH soils. However, it is not a major component of Rich Cove Forests, preferring somewhat drier slopes in the mountains. In the eastern Piedmont, however, it usually is restricted to rich forested soils over mafic rocks (high pH soil). Fairly common to locally common in the mountains; fairly common in the western Piedmont and foothills; uncommon to locally fairly common in the rest of the Piedmont range. In most of its NC range, it is outnumbered by other magnolia species, such as M. fraseri in the mountains, and M. tripetala in much of the central Piedmont.

Leaf Arrangement:


Leaf Retention:


Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:


Life Cycle:


Wildlife Value:

Important for Wildlife

Landscape Value:

Suitable for home landscapes

State Rank:

S5: Secure (*Key)

Global Rank:

G5 - Secure (*Key)


Weakley (2018) and a few other references list varieties for the species. In the state, the nominate variety – M. acuminata var. acuminata – is essentially the only one in the mountains, whereas M. acuminata var. subcordata is the primary or only form in the Piedmont. This latter one occurs mainly on high pH soil, is a small tree, and has brighter golden-yellow petals.

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USDA PLANTS Database Record

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