61. Cucumber Tree

(Magnolia acuminata)

Other Common Names: Cucumber Magnolia, Blue Magnolia.

Family: Magnoliaceae

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South towards Rainier Vista, a path goes into the woods. As you enter the forest, on the left is a Pacific dogwood, on the right is its cousin, the Old World Cornus sanguinea. Between the woods and Stevens way is the Medicinal Herb Garden. On the Rainier Vista side is a giant Cucumber Tree above the bench. This species is a deciduous magnolia from eastern North America that grows as a forest tree. Its unripe seed-cones resemble small cucumbers. Its huge leaves are out when its greenish-yellow flowers begin opening in May. The red seed-cones of autumn are pretty against the yellow leaves. No magnolia has better fall color.


This is one of the largest and most cold-hardy magnolias. The wood is fine grained, soft, durable, but not strong. It polishes well and is used for boxes, crates, flooring, and cabinets.  The bark has been chewed by people trying to break a tobacco habit. The national champion tree in Stark County, Ohio measures more than 7 feet (2 meters) in diameter although it is only 79 feet (24 meters) tall.

 

[Leaves and blossoms of cucumber tree]

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