The Plant Native

Cucumber Magnolia

Highlights

Cucumber Magnolia and Yellow Cucumber Magnolia are two native magnolia trees that are known for their sweet-smelling yellow flowers and cucumber-shaped fruit. Cucumber Magnolias can grow in cold climates as far north as Canada and are the tallest of the native magnolias. Yellow Cucumber Magnolias are native to warmer areas (PA to FL). Because these trees are native, all they need to thrive is rain. 

Dig Deeper

Explore the history, types, and where to plant Cucumber Magnolias

Table of Contents

What’s the difference between Cucumber Magnolia and Yellow Cucumber Magnolia?

You would think that it would only be color, but they have more differences than that. Each Cucumber Magnolia handles cold temperatures differently (a plant’s ability to handle frost and snow is called its hardiness.) Here’s how they’re different:

Cucumber Magnolia

MAGNOLIA ACUMINATA

  • Super cold hardy: can be grown from Canada to FL (only magnolia native to Canada)
  • Yellow-green flowers
  • Tallest of the native magnolias: grows up to 100 feet
  • Most widespread native magnolia

Yellow Cucumber Magnolia

MAGNOLIA ACUMINATA SUBSP. SUBCORDATA

  • Doesn’t like cold: grows from PA to FL
  • Yellow flowers
  • Petite tree: tops out around 30 feet tall
  • Native to a smaller area than the Cucumber

How to grow Cucumber Magnolias

Both species of Cucumber Magnolias like wetter areas. In nature, they are often found in or near swamps and bogs. If you’re planting in a non-wet area, be sure to give them water during dry periods, particularly during the first year when they are getting established.

Both Cucumber Magnolias like full sun to part sun. The only thing they don’t like is full shade. The more sun they get, the more leaves and flowers they will be able to produce.

What to plant with Cucumber Magnolias

There are so many great native plant options to plant with Cucumber Magnolias! Some great pairings include:

Heuchera 'Green-Spice' by Patrick Standish

Alum Root (Heuchera)

mountain-laurel-native-shrub-flower

Mountain Laurel

ninebark-5755860_1280

Ninebark

A white Sweetbay Magnolia flower blooming, photographed growing on a branch of the Sweetbay Magnolia tree.

Sweetbay Magnolia

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Tulip Poplar

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Winterberry

Where can you buy a Cucumber Magnolia?

Finding specific native plants like Cucumber Magnolias can be challenging, especially when visiting conventional plant nurseries. To make the search easier, we’ve put together four resources for native plants:

Cucumber Magnolia

Where can I find seeds and plants?

Finding native plants can be challenging (we partly blame Marie Antoinette.) To make it easier, we’ve assembled four sourcing ideas.

Native Plant Nurseries

Our list of native nurseries makes finding one a breeze

Online Communities

Local Facebook groups are a great plant source

Sources

UPDATED —
04/12/2024
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