The cucumber magnolia is part of the family Magnoliaceae, which evolved before bees and was originally pollinated by beetles!
Today, with over 25 recorded cucumber magnolia trees in the arboretum, keep your eyes peeled for them wherever you are! See if you can spot one as you walk along the Stonewall Cut-off Trail.
History at Hadwen
Hadwen was immensely fond of magnolia trees, and they are documented in 1882 as one of Hadwen’s original tree plantings. In 1900, he writes magnolias are “among the most magnificent trees for ornamental planting. The varied forms of the trees, with the size and verdure of their foliage and the beauty and fragrance of their flowers, place them in the front as ornamental trees where the soil and exposure prove favorable.” Hadwen had at least fifteen varieties of magnolia. He even named Magnolia Farm after the tree, owing to their abundance on his property.
Detailed Species Information
Cucumber magnolia, sometimes called the cucumber tree, is in the family Magnoliaceae and one of the largest magnolias. This species is commonly found in the forests of the eastern United States mostly around the Application belt. Cucumber magnolia is deciduous and cold-hardy. It is characterized by simple, oval-shaped, dark green, shiny leaves that are alternately arranged, and small, yellow-green flowers. They can reach a height of around 98 feet (30 meters) in natural conditions but tend to be shorter in cultivation. “Cucumber” is in reference to the fruit of the cucumber magnolia which resembles small cucumbers. These fruits ripen into bright reds and oranges and eventually split open to release bright red seeds.
These trees grow best in moist, slightly acidic soils that are well-drained, but can grow in a variety of conditions. The species is also an important host to many pollinators such as bees and butterflies by providing food and habitat during larval stages. Because of its relative hardiness, cucumber magnolia is commonly used in parks and landscaping as shade trees.