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Overview

Brief Summary

Magnoliaceae -- Magnolia family

    H. Clay Smith

    Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata), also called cucumber  magnolia, yellow cucumbertree, yellow-flower magnolia, and  mountain magnolia, is the most widespread and hardiest of the  eight native magnolia species in the United States, and the only  magnolia native to Canada. They reach their greatest size in  moist soils of slopes and valleys in the mixed hardwood forests  of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Growth is fairly rapid and  maturity is reached in 80 to 120 years. The soft, durable,  straight-grained wood is similar to yellow-poplar (Liriodendron  tulipifera). They are often marketed together and used for  pallets, crates, furniture, plywood, and special products. The  seeds are eaten by birds and rodents and this tree is suitable  for planting in parks.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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H. Clay Smith

Source: Silvics of North America

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Comprehensive Description

Comments

Among the native Magnolia spp. in North America, this is the tallest and most cold-hardy species. The Cucumber Tree has large attractive leaves, but its yellowish green flowers are less showy than those of other species in this genus. It is the only native magnolia in Illinois; the ranges of other magnolia species from North America are located south and southeast of the state. Some shrubby species of magnolias from east Asia are often cultivated for their showy flowers. These latter magnolias have white or pink flowers, rather than yellowish green. Because of its large size, the wood of Cucumber Tree has been used to make crates, boxes, fixtures, interior trim, cheap furniture, plywood, and other wooden items. The wood is light-weight, rather soft, straight-grained, and light brown. It has properties that are similar to the wood of Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This deciduous tree is 40-80' at maturity, forming a straight trunk up to 3' across and a pyramidal to rounded crown. Branches of the crown are widely spreading to ascending; the crown becomes more open on older trees. Trunk bark on mature trees is shallowly furrowed and rough-textured, while the trunk bark of immature trees is more scaly and flaky. Regardless of maturity, trunk bark is grayish brown, rather thin, and soft. Branch bark and twigs are reddish brown to gray and more smooth. The twigs are relatively stout and they have long terminal buds (up to 1" in length) that are silvery gray. When they are broken, the twigs release a sweet-spicy scent. Alternate leaves are found along the twigs and young green shoots. The blades of these leaves are 5-10" long and 2½-6" across; they are broadly elliptic or ovate and their margins are entire (smooth) to slightly undulate (wavy). The upper blade surface is yellowish green to dark green and glabrous, while the lower blade surface is pale green and more or less covered with short fine pubescence. The slender petioles are pale green and 1-2" long. Flowers are produced individually at the tips of twigs, usually within the middle to upper crown of the tree. Each flower is 2-3½" long and a little less across, consisting of 6 yellowish green petals, 3 light green sepals, and a cylindrical cluster of pistils with a ring of flat stamens at its base. The petals are erect, oblanceolate in shape, rather leathery in texture, and often glaucous. The sepals are much smaller than the petals, drooping, and early-deciduous. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring as the vernal leaves develop. The flowers are slightly fragrant. Afterwards, cross-pollinated flowers produce compound fruits that are 1½-3" long, oblongloid in shape, and glabrous. Immature compound fruits are green and scaly in appearance, while mature compound fruits are orange-red to red and more irregularly shaped. There are typically 10-60 fruits per compound fruit, although some fruits may fail to develop. During late summer or autumn, these fruits become mature and release their seeds. Each fruit consists of a follicle that splits open along one side to release 1 or 2 seeds. Individual seeds are about ½" long and ovoid in shape; they have soft outer coats that are red or orange-red, fleshy, and oily. The ripe seeds are suspended from the compound fruit by thread-like structures before they fall to the ground. The root system is widely spreading and relatively deep; a taproot is rarely formed. Smaller roots are rather fleshy and delicate. This tree reproduces by reseeding itself. The deciduous leaves become dull yellow or brown during the autumn.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range Description

Magnolia acuminata is native and endemic to eastern and mid-west North America and to southeast Canada from Florida to Ontario. It is found at elevations between 1000-2000 m asl. It is the only species of Magnolia native to Canada.
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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Cucumber Tree is restricted to southern Illinois, where it is rare (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies to the west and northwest of its primary range in the Appalachian mountains. Habitats consist of rich mesic woodlands, lower wooded slopes, wooded areas in river valleys, and wooded areas along streambanks above the flood zone. In Illinois, Cucumber Tree can occur in either oak-hickory or beech-maple woodlands. Outside of the state, it is sometimes found in mixed woodlands (both coniferous and deciduous trees). Because of its thin bark, this tree is easily killed by wildfires. It is sometimes cultivated as a landscape tree in gardens and parks.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Cucumbertree is widely distributed but never abundant. It grows on  cool moist sites mostly in the mountains from western New York  and southern Ontario southwest to Ohio, southern Indiana and  Illinois, southern Missouri south to southeastern Oklahoma and  Louisiana; east to northwest Florida and central Georgia; and  north in the mountains to Pennsylvania.

   
  -The native range of cucumbertree.


  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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H. Clay Smith

Source: Silvics of North America

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Bark dark gray, furrowed. Pith homogeneous. Twigs and foliar buds silvery-pubescent. Leaves distinctly alternate, not in terminal whorl-like clusters; stipules 3.2-4.3 × 1.4-1.6 cm, abaxially pilose. Leaf blade broadly ovate-elliptic, oblong to oblong-obovate, rarely somewhat rotund, (5-)10-25(-40) × 4-15(-26) cm, base cuneate to truncate or broadly rounded, often somewhat oblique, apex acuminate; surfaces abaxially pale green to whitish, pilose to nearly glabrous, adaxially green, glabrous or rarely scattered pilose. Flowers slightly aromatic, 6-9 cm across; spathaceous bracts 2, abaxially silky-pubescent; tepals erect, strongly glaucous to greenish or sometimes yellow to orange-yellow, outermost tepals reflexed, much shorter, green; stamens (50-)60-122(-139), 5-13 mm; filaments white; pistils (35-)40-45(-60). Follicetums oblong-cylindric, often asymmetric, 2-7 × 0.8-2.7 cm; follicles short-beaked, glabrous. Seeds heart-shaped, somewhat flattened to somewhat globose, 9-10 mm, smooth, aril reddish orange. 2 n =76.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees, deciduous, single-trunked, to 30 m. Bark dark gray, furrowed. Pith homogeneous. Twigs and foliar buds silvery-pubescent. Leaves distinctly alternate, not in terminal whorl-like clusters; stipules 3.2-4.3 × 1.4-1.6 cm, abaxially pilose. Leaf blade broadly ovate-elliptic, oblong to oblong-obovate, rarely somewhat rotund, (5-)10-25(-40) × 4-15(-26) cm, base cuneate to truncate or broadly rounded, often somewhat oblique, apex acuminate; surfaces abaxially pale green to whitish, pilose to nearly glabrous, adaxially green, glabrous or rarely scattered pilose. Flowers slightly aromatic, 6-9 cm across; spathaceous bracts 2, abaxially silky-pubescent; tepals erect, strongly glaucous to greenish or sometimes yellow to orange-yellow, outermost tepals reflexed, much shorter, green; stamens (50-)60-122(-139), 5-13 mm; filaments white; pistils (35-)40-45(-60). Follicetums oblong-cylindric, often asymmetric, 2-7 × 0.8-2.7 cm; follicles short-beaked, glabrous. Seeds heart-shaped, somewhat flattened to somewhat globose, 9-10 mm, smooth, aril reddish orange. 2n=76.

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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Magnolia virginiana Linnaeus var. (e) acuminata Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 536. 1753; Kobus acuminata (Linnaeus) Nieuwland; Magnolia acuminata var. alabamensis Ashe; M. acuminata var. aurea (Ashe) Ashe; M. acuminata subsp. cordata (Michaux) E. Murray; M. acuminata var. cordata (Michaux) Seringe; M. acuminata var. ludoviciana Sargent; M. acuminata var. ozarkensis Ashe; M. acuminata var. subcordata (Spach) Dandy; M. cordata Michaux; Tulipastrum acuminatum (Linnaeus) Small; T.acuminatum var. aureum Ashe; T. acuminatum var. flavum Small; T.acuminatum var. ludovicianum (Sargent) Ashe; T.acuminatum var. ozarkense (Ashe) Ashe; T.americanum Spach; T.americanum var.

 subcordatum Spach; T. cordatum (Michaux) Small
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Cucumber trees reach their greatest size in moist soils of slopes and valleys in the mixed hardwood forests of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Growth is fairly rapid and maturity is reached in 80 to 120 years.

Magnolia acuminata is the hardiest and most widespread of the eight native Magnolia species in the USA. Unlike many species of Magnolia, this species does not have spectacular flowers but it does produce unusual small cucumber-like fruits in the autumn. This species prefers rich soils of bottom land and north to east slopes and is most plentiful in mountains and hills. The soils must be well drained, moist, and deep. Most slopes where this species is found are gentle to moderate, up to 25 percent, though the cucumber tree is also found on steeper slopes. The Cucumber tree is found in three orders and five suborders of soil. The dominant order, Inceptisols, occurs on approximately 60 percent of the species range, particularly in the Appalachians. On steep slopes greater than 25 percent, cucumber tree grows on coarse loams. On gentle to moderate slopes it is found on fine loams. Here, water is readily available to plants during more than one-half of the year or more than three consecutive months during the growing season. Soil textures are finer than loamy sand and these soils have a moderate to high nutrient content. Birds and other animals feed on the seeds and fruit of this species.

Despite the hardy nature of this magnolia, it is not commonly found in Britain where it was introduced by John Bartram in 1736. It prefers alkaline soils that are moist and well drained, and it cannot tolerate extreme winds or heat. In its natural habitat it can grow to 30 m (100 ft) in height but more often reaches around 20 m (75 ft).
The foliage of Magnolia acuminata means that it is well suited to providing shade and as a result is often planted in parks and gardens. As well as its long, pointed leaves and mini 'cucumbers', the tree can also be identified by its bark, which is a mix of orange, purple and dark brown usually in the form of narrow ridges.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Cucumber Tree is restricted to southern Illinois, where it is rare (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies to the west and northwest of its primary range in the Appalachian mountains. Habitats consist of rich mesic woodlands, lower wooded slopes, wooded areas in river valleys, and wooded areas along streambanks above the flood zone. In Illinois, Cucumber Tree can occur in either oak-hickory or beech-maple woodlands. Outside of the state, it is sometimes found in mixed woodlands (both coniferous and deciduous trees). Because of its thin bark, this tree is easily killed by wildfires. It is sometimes cultivated as a landscape tree in gardens and parks.
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Soils and Topography

This species prefers rich soils of bottomland and north to east  slopes and is most plentiful in mountains and hills. The  soils must be well drained, moist, and deep. Most slopes where  this species is found are gentle to moderate, up to 25 percent,  though cucumber tree is also found on steeper slopes. The species  is found at elevations as high as 1524 in (5,000 ft) above sea  level.

    Cucumbertree is found in three orders and five suborders of soil  (28). The dominant order, Inceptisols, occurs on approximately 60  percent of the species range, particularly in the Appalachians.  On steep slopes greater than 25 percent, cucumbertree grows on  coarse loams. On gentle to moderate slopes it is found on fine  loams. Here, water is readily available to plants during more  than one-half of the year or more than three consecutive months  during the growing season. Soil textures are finer than loamy  sand and these soils have a moderate to high nutrient content.

    Approximately 35 percent of the soils are Ultisols, occurring on  gentle to steep slopes in the southern range. These soils  are low in nutrients. On slopes greater than 25 percent,  cucumbertree grows on fine to coarse loams, clays, and on  well-drained quartz sands. On slopes up to 25 percent it is  confined to coarse loams (28).

    The remaining soils on which cucumbertree grows are in the order  Alfisols.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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H. Clay Smith

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

Cucumbertree is the hardiest of the native tree-size magnolias.  The climate is described as humid to subhumid throughout its  range. There are 110 to 260 days in the growing season, with 150  to 160 frost-free days in the northern portion of the range and  180 to 230 frost-free days in the southern portion. Annual  precipitation measures 890 to 2030 min (35 to 80 in), of which  about 510 to 1020 mm. (20 to 40 in) fall during the growing  season. The mean annual temperature varies from a low of 7°  C (45° F) in the northern range to 18° C (65° F)  in the south. January temperatures usually are between -7°  to 10° C (20° to 50° F); July temperatures are  between 18° to 27° C (65° to 80° F); however,  sometimes there are extremes well above and well below these  temperatures for relatively short periods of time. Average annual  snowfall measures from 200 cm (80 in) or more in the north to  only a trace of snow in the south (25,29).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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H. Clay Smith

Source: Silvics of North America

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Trees , deciduous, single-trunked, to 30 m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Insects are responsible for cross-pollination of the flowers. Only pollen is offered as a floral reward to such visitors. Like other Magnolia spp., the flowers of Cucumber Tree are cross-pollinated primarily by sap beetles (Nitulidae) and other beetles. In the absence of such cross-pollination, the compound fruits of this tree will fail to develop. Insects that feed on the sap, foliage, and other parts of this tree are few in number. They include Neolecanium cornuparum (Magnolia Scale), other scale insects, Phyllocnistis magnoliella (Magnolia Leaf Beetle), and other leaf beetles. The bright red seeds are eaten by grackles and other forest birds, while deer sometimes browse on the twigs, leaves, and buds.
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Associated Forest Cover

Cucumbertree is found scattered in the oak-hickory forest. It is  an associated species in six eastern intermediate to climax  forest cover types (5). In northern hardwoods cucumbertree is a  minor component in Sugar Maple (Society of American Foresters  Type 27) and Black Cherry-Maple Type 28). In upland oaks  of the central forest region it is a component in White Oak-Black  Oak-Northern Red Oak (Type 52), Yellow-Poplar (Type 57),  Yellow-Poplar-Eastern Hemlock (Type 58), and Yellow-Poplar-White  Oak-Northern Red Oak (Type 59).

    In the northern and central hardwoods and Appalachian Highlands,  cucumbertree commonly is associated with sugar maple (Acer  saccharum), yellowpoplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), yellow  buckeye (Aesculus octandra), several oaks Quercus spp.), and  black walnut (Juglans nigra). Common understory  vegetation includes spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana),  trilliums (Trillium spp.), violets (Viola spp.),  Solomons-seal (Polygonatum pubescens), and sweet cicely  (Osmorhiza spp.). In the Allegheny Plateau of northern  Pennsylvania and southern New York, cucumbertree usually is  associated with black cherry (Prunus serotina), sugar  maple, yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), sweet birch  (B. lenta), yellow-poplar, hemlock (Tsuga spp.), basswood  (Tilia spp.), northern red oak Quercus rubra), and  butternut (Juglans cinerea). Understory vegetation  includes black cherry, white ash (Fraxinus americana), sugar  maple, beech (Fagus grandifolia), red maple (Acer  rubrum), striped maple (A. pensylvanicum), witch-hazel  (Hamamelis virginiana), hobblebush (Viburnum  alnifolium), and other viburnums.

    In the upland oak types throughout the East, cucumbertree is  associated with white oak Quercus alba), red oak, black  oak (Q. velutina), chestnut oak

    (Q. prinus), yellow-poplar, elms (Ulmus spp.), hickories  (Carya spp.), maples, blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica),  white ash, basswood, yellow birch, and black cherry. Common  understory species include dogwood (Cornus spp.), sassafras  (Sassafras albidum), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum),  serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), viburnums, witch-hazel,  grape (Vitis spp.), greenbrier (Smilax spp.), tick  trefoil (Desmodium spp.), and hawthorn (Crataegus  spp.).

    In the Appalachian and Cumberland Mountains, cucumbertree commonly  occurs with yellow-poplar, eastern hemlock (Tsuga  canadensis), white ash, basswood, birches, sugar maple,  northern red oak, black oak, and white oak. Common understory  vegetation includes hemlock, sugar maple, beech, birch,  rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.), viburnums, wild  hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), and several ferns (Dyopteris  spp.). At higher elevations in the central uplands oak types,  cucumbertree is associated with yellow-poplar, white oak,  northern red oak, black cherry, buckeye, white ash, beech,  eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and maples.  Understory vegetation includes maples, oaks, hickory, black  cherry, grape, spicebush (Lindera benzoin), wild  hydrangea, viburnum, dogwood, and ferns.

    At its southern limits in the Coastal Plains from Louisiana to  west Florida, cucumbertree is associated with Sweetbay (Magnolia  uirginiana), bigleaf magnolia (M. macrophylla), and  southern magnolia (M. grandiflora) in addition to white  oak, water oak (Quercus nigra), swamp chestnut oak Q.  michauxii), and southern red oak (Q. falcata), elms,  hickories, yellow-poplar, beech, maples, white ash, and blackgum.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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H. Clay Smith

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

Cucumbertree has no important disease  agents; however, it is very sensitive to ground fires and frost  (8). Nectria galligena is common on cucumbertree stands on  unsuitable sites, particularly in the southern Appalachian  region. Nectria cankers cause defects but seldom kill the tree.

    Ambrosia beetles such as Platypus compositus, a common wood borer,  seriously degrade recently felled trees during warm months. In  the South, it is common to saw logs within 2 to 3 weeks after  felling (2). The magnolia scale (Neolecanium cornuparuum),  one of the largest scale insects in the United States, can  seriously injure magnolia species. Other sap-sucking insects that  attack cucumbertree are the European fruit lecanium (Parthenolecanium  corni); the oleander pit scale (Asterolecanium  pustulans); and the San Jose scale (Quadraspidiotus  perniciosus). Common insect defoliators of cucumbertree are  0dontopus calceatus, Phyllocnistis magnoliella, and Phyllophaga  forsteri (2).

    Sapsucker damage is common on cucumbertree. Bird peck causes stain  streaks in the wood several feet above and below each peck,  resulting in lumber degrade.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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H. Clay Smith

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Reaction to Competition

This species is classed as  intermediate in shade tolerance (24). Observations on the Fernow  Experimental Forest, Parsons, WV, indicate that cucumbertree  regeneration is more frequent in clearcuts than in partial cuts.  In early development of central Appalachian hardwood stands,  cucumbertree competes favorably with yellow-poplar and black  cherry on good oak sites and with oak species on fair sites.  Cucumbertree is similar to yellow-poplar in that it usually  develops a straight bole at a young age. Cucumbertree produces  considerable branches, but since it self-prunes well in closed  stands, it is usually clear boled (8).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Rooting Habit

The root system for cucumbertree is deep  and widespread, and trees rarely develop a taproot (30).  Cucumbertree is susceptible to windthrow, especially on steep  slopes.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Cucumbertree sprouts readily and  often is used as grafting root stock for named varieties and  ornamental species. Propagation is from seed or grafts; use of  cuttings is unsuccessful (15). Successful grafting allows this  species to be grown far north of its natural range (17).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seedling Development

Magnolia seed of all species seems  more sensitive to adverse temperatures and moisture factors than  other tree seed (7). All seeds of magnolia species lose viability  if fully dried or stored over winters at room temperatures.  During germination, the cotyledons (epigeous) emerge from the  ground. Germination occurs the first or second spring following  seed production. Seed dormancy can be overcome by several months   of low temperature. Normally, it is essential to stratify the  seed for first-year germination. Moist, cold storage is  recommended (14). Average seed germination is 55 percent; seeds  germinate in 35 to 60 days. The clean or uncleaned seed can be  stored at 0° to 5° C (32° to 41° F) in sealed  containers for several years with little loss of viability.

    Reproduction of cucumbertree in the forests is scarce because of  the destruction of seeds by birds and rodents, high  susceptibility of the seedlings to freezing, and the exacting  conditions required for germination (18). Nursery practices used  to artificially propagate magnolia seed include sowing the seed  in the fall or stratifying the seed several months and then  sowing the seed in the late winter or spring. The beds should be  mulched and the mulch not removed until there is no possibility  of a late spring frost. Young seedlings need half shade during  most of the first summer in the seedbed. Normally plantings are  done with 1-0 bare root seedlings (18). Cucumbertree is easy to  transplant (30).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

Cucumbertree produces  from 10 to 60 seeds per fruit. Good seed crops usually occur  every 4 to 5 years, but less frequently at the margins of the  geographic range. Light seed crops occur in intervening years.  Seed bearing begins at about 30 years and is optimum at age 50  and beyond (18). The average number of uncleaned seeds per  kilogram is about 3,530 (1,600/lb); for depulped, cleaned seed,  the average ranges from about 6,400 to 14,600/kg (2,900 to  6,600/lb) (7,18). Seeds are usually disseminated by birds, wind,  water, and gravity soon after ripening in the fall.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

Cucumbertree flowers from early  April through early July depending on location (22).  Self-pollination usually does not occur because the flowers do  not produce ripe pollen until the female stigma is no longer  receptive (12). Magnolia flowers are perfect and are borne singly  at the ends of the branches. They appear after the leaves start  developing. The flowers close at night and do not last longer  than 2 to 4 days. Pollination is largely by insects. The fruit, a  green cucumber-shaped cone, ripens in late August or September.  The thickened, rounded, red knobby follicles open exposing  reddish-orange seeds that hang on slender threads before falling  to the ground (7). The outer seedcoat is fleshy, oily, and soft;  the inner seedcoat is hard, thin, and membranous enclosing a  large and fleshy endosperm.

    Weather adversely influences the sensitive flower receptivity and  available pollen. Also, cucumbertrees have a shorter period of  receptivity and pollen shedding than other native magnolias (14).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Cucumbertree can reach a height of about  30 m (100 ft) and a d.b.h. of 91 to 122 cm (36 to 48 in).  Typically, this tree is 18 to 24 m (60 to 80 ft) tall and 60 cm  (24 in) in d.b.h. Cucumbertree grows fast in moist, deep soils of  coves and lower slopes. This species matures in 100 years and  seldom lives more than 150 years (8). Generally, the species is  rapid growing and short lived. There are no available published   data on the growth rate and yield of individual trees.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Magnolia acuminata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Khela, S.

Reviewer/s
Oldfield, S.

Contributor/s

Justification
Magnolia acuminata is classified as Least Concern. Although published data on this species is not available it is known to have a widespread distribution in eastern North America where it is common. It remains unclear if this species is restricted to high elevations and montane areas. There are no known threats to this species and populations are thought to be stable.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Population

Population
There is no data on populations however this species is known to be widespread throughout its range but not abundant. It is one of the most widespread and hardiest of all eight species of Magnolia endemic to North America.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no known significant threats.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species has a ranking of S5 (demonstrably secure in New York State) and G5 by Natureserve (demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The environmental preference is full or partial sun, mesic conditions, and deep well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. The seeds should be kept moist during their winter dormancy, otherwise they will lose viability. Seedlings of this tree tend to more sensitive to adverse temperature and moisture conditions than those of other trees. Because of the delicate root system, this tree can be difficult to transplant. Once it becomes established, however, the rate of growth is rapid. Mature trees typically live for about 100-150 years. The relatively soft branches are prone to breakage and the entire tree can be wind-thrown, particularly on slopes. This tree can be successfully cultivated north of its area of natural occurrence; it is hardy to Zone 4. It should be planted in sheltered areas that provide some protection from high winds and late frost.
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Special Uses

In general, wildlife use of cucumbertree for food is low; however,  the seeds are eaten by several species of birds and small mammals  (11). Grackles and blackbirds also eat the young fruit of the  cucumber tree (14). Twigs, leaves, and buds are browsed by deer;  although cucumbertree is classed as nonpalatable by some  investigators (9), others have considered it an important deer  plant food in West Virginia during one or more seasons (1).

    Cucumbertree is a valuable forest and shade tree, highly desirable  for ornamental planting because of the showy flowers, fruits, and  attractive foliage and bark (18). This species has been planted  successfully well north of its native range (4); it grows well in  slightly acid, well-drained soil (26).

    Cucumbertree is used for wood products and resembles yellow-poplar  except that the wood is heavier, harder, and stronger (3). This  species is commonly used for lumber in the Appalachian Mountains,  especially in West Virginia and adjoining States. The wood is  usually sold as yellow-poplar; it has not been sold as  cucumbertree lumber since 1928 (3). The wood is used in  furniture, fixtures, venetian blinds, siding, interior trim,  sashes, doors, boxes, and crates (10). Cucumbertree is not as  desirable for fuelwood as the denser hardwoods. Compared with  hickory, which has a fuel value of 100, cucumbertree has a fuel  value of 57 (on a volume basis).

    Cucumbertree has a specific gravity of 0.44 based on oven-dry  weight and green volume, and 0.48 based on oven-dry weight and  volume at 12 percent moisture content (27). Generally,  the wood is close grained, durable, and susceptible to decay.  Sapwood typically is a light color while the heartwood is pale  brown. The branches of this species are soft and break easily,  making tree climbing difficult (22).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Wikipedia

Magnolia acuminata

Magnolia acuminata, commonly called the cucumber tree (often spelled as a single word "cucumbertree"), cucumber magnolia or blue magnolia, is one of the largest magnolias, and one of the cold-hardiest. It is a large forest tree of the Eastern United States and Southern Ontario Canada. It is a tree that tends to occur singly as scattered specimens, rather than in groves.[1]

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.[2] 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".

The leaves are deciduous 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).

The fruit of Magnolia acuminata

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 leaves of Magnolia acuminata are pointed at the tip and provide it with its name - 'acuminate' means tapering to a fine point. The name Cucumber Tree refers to 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.

Uses and cultivation[edit]

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 (and most likely world) 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.

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.

In the timber trade, the wood of 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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sternberg, G., & Wilson, J. (2004). Native Trees for North American Landscapes. Portland, Oregon:Timber Press
  2. ^ White, D.J. (2000). Update COSEWIC Status Report on the Cucumber Tree Magnolia acuminata in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa, Ontario
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Notes

Comments

Studies of Magnolia acuminata have failed to reconcile the nature of variation in this widespread species. In an attempt to settle differences in variation patterns, J.W. Hardin (1954) recognized four infraspecific taxa in M. acuminata . Later (1972, 1989) Hardin abandoned his earlier views for a more conservative stance, stating that variation in M. acuminata lacked any consistent pattern or geographic correlation. This is the view taken here--no infraspecific taxa are accepted for M. acuminata at this time. Its flowers are normally greenish and glaucous or sometimes yellow to orange-yellow, less showy than those of other magnolias in the flora. In southern areas, trees with yellow to orange-yellow flowers (originally described by Michaux as M. cordata ) occur in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and perhaps elsewhere, together with trees that bear normal greenish flowers. Both filiform and flagelliform trichomes occur on the leaves; cylindric trichomes also occur.

Magnolia acuminata is of value to horticulturists because no other species of the genus has yellow tepals . Magnolia acuminata contains major quantities of xanthophyll lutein-5,6-epoxide and, in smaller amounts, acarotene-5,6-epoxide. Although this carotenoid occurs randomly throughout populations of M. acuminata , often it is masked by chlorophyll and not visibly expressed. Sometimes the carotenoid pigment shows through, as in the hybrid M. acuminata × M. denudata 'Elizabeth'. In that cross the M. acuminata parent tree was a nondescript plant with greenish flowers; yet out of this hybrid came 'Elizabeth', a stunning plant with light canary yellow flowers, a result completely unexpected. A thorough field study of M. acuminata is clearly warranted, and further investigation of the carotenoid flower pigments is needed to clarify the taxonomy of this widespread tree.

The largest known tree of Magnolia acuminata , 29.6m in height with a trunk diameter of 1.26m, is recorded from a specimen cultivated in Waukon, Iowa (American Forestry Association 1994).

The Cherokee and Iroquois tribes used Magnolia acuminata , largely the bark, as an analgesic, antidiarrheal, gastrointestinal aid, anthelmintic, toothache remedy, and for various other uses (D.E. Moerman 1986).

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