Herbs & Plants

Magnolia acuminate

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Botanical Name :Magnolia acuminate
Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia
Subgenus: M. subg. Yulania
Section: M. sect. Yulania subsect. Tulipastrum
Species: M. acuminata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Magnoliales

Common Names : Cucumber tree (often spelled as a single word “cucumbertree”),cucumber magnolia or blue magnolia

Habitat : The cucumber tree is native primarily within the Appalachian belt, including the Allegheny Plateau and Cumberland Plateau, up to western Pennsylvania and New York. There are also numerous disconnected outlying populations through much of the southeastern U.S., and a few small populations in Southern Ontario. In Canada, the cucumber tree is listed as an endangered species and is protected under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. In 1993 The North American Native Plant Society purchased Shining Tree Woods to preserve a stand of Magnolia acuminata, which is also known as “The Shining Tree”.

Cucumber-Tree is a deciduous medium-sized tree common in the Mountains, rare in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The leaves are similar to other deciduous Magnolias, particularly the Umbrella-Tree (Magnolia tripetala), but are a bit shorter, more broadly ovate, thicker, and are not clustered at the ends of branches.

It is one of the cold-hardiest. The leaves are  simple and alternate, oval to oblong, 12-25 cm long and 6-12 cm wide, with smooth margins and downy on the underside. They come in two forms, acuminate at both ends, or moderately cordate at the base (these are usually only formed high in the tree).

Unlike most magnolias, the flowers are not showy. They are typically small, yellow-green, and borne high in the tree in April through June. The name Cucumber tree comes from the unripe fruit, which is green and often shaped like a small cucumber; the fruit matures to a dark red color and is 6-8 cm long and 4 cm broad, with the individual carpels splitting open to release the bright red seeds, 10-60 per fruit. The ripe fruit is a striking reddish orange color.

Cultivation: They grow best in deep, moist, well-drained soils that are slightly acidic although they are tolerant of alkaline soils.
They are tricky to transplant due to their coarse, fleshy root system and should be planted shallow and moved in early spring with a good soil ball.

Medicinal Uses:
A mild diaphoretic, tonic, and aromatic stimulant. It is used in rheumatism and is contra-indicated in inflammatory symptoms. In the Alleghany districts the cones are steeped in spirits to make a tonic tincture. A warm infusion is laxative and sudorific, a cold one being antiperiodic and mildly tonic. It has historically been used as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach ache and cramps. The bark has been chewed by people trying to break the tobacco habit. A hot infusion of the bark has been snuffed to treat sinus problems and has also been held in the mouth to treat toothaches. The bark is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. It does not store well so stocks should be renewed annually. A tea made from the fruit is a tonic, used in the treatment of general debility and was formerly esteemed in the treatment of stomach ailments. In Louisiana, the bark of the root and the fruit was used in herbal treatments.  The powdered root bark dosage was about a teaspoonful.  The tincture was most often used.  It was made by placing the fruit in weak alcohol for a given time.  The rural herbal users have used the fruit of the cucumber tree to treat dyspepsia and general debility for many years.  Herbalists used the bark and fruit prepared in the required form to give relief from the pains of rheumatism.  Midwives gave a tonic of the cucumber tree for treatment in obstinate cases of suppressed menstruation.

Other Uses;
Cucumber trees are excellent shade trees for parks and gardens, though they are not recommended for use as street trees. In cultivation, they typically only grow 15-20 m (50-75 feet) tall, although they reach over 30 m (100 feet) in ideal forest situations. They can become quite massive: the United States national champion in Stark County, Ohio measures more than seven feet (2 m) in diameter (although only 79 ft or 24 m tall). They grow best in deep, moist, well-drained soils that are slightly acidic although they are tolerant of alkaline soils.

In the timber trade, this tree is interchangeable with that of the related tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera).

Magnolia acuminata has been used in hybridizing new varieties that share its yellow flower color and cold hardiness

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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