This week we look at the size, shape and general characteristics of the Cucumber Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata) tree. The Cucumber Magnolia tree has a rich history and is closely related to the Tulip Tree; another found in the book “Common Trees of Pennsylvania.” This book can be gotten free by visiting State Representative Clint Owlett’s office in Troy or State Representative Tina Pickett’s office in Towanda.
The Cucumber Magnolia tree has fragrant flowers which are in bloom only two to four days in spring. They have a rich lemony smell to them. The flowers are large (3-inches long), greenish yellow, single, upright, and appear from late April until early June.
This tree enjoys growth in moist woodlands. However, this tree will grow in parks and gardens. The picture (above) Linda took of this tree was in early June at Indian Park in Montoursville —a nice place to hike and bike too. We spend a lot of time in the Indian Park area every year.
The name of Cucumber Magnolia kind of stumped me until I read about the fruit. The fruit cluster when young, look like a small green cucumber. When mature in autumn, it has 3-4” small red pods, each containing two scarlet seeds. The red pods sometimes cling to the branches into winter. Birds and animals feed upon these seed pods. Black bears have been observed climbing the tree to harvest its seed pods.
This is a medium to large tree, growing upwards or 50 to 75 feet. Cucumber magnolia wood is used mainly for interior finish, furniture and containers. The wood is somewhat brittle. Caution should be used if you decide to climb this tree. The branches are not very stout.
Next time read a story about the Red Mulberry tree. We have one growing on the grounds of the Canton Area School District. I find observing and identifying new sightings in nature to be both fun and educational at the same time.
Get out and enjoy all the wonderful things that God gives to us in nature.