Herb: Cucumber Tree

Latin name: Magnolia acuminata

Family: Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)

Medicinal use of Cucumber Tree:

A tea made from the bark is antiperiodic, aromatic, mildly diaphoretic, laxative, stimulant, 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.

Description of the plant:


20 m
(66 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Rich woods, especially in uplands. Low mountain slopes and the rocky banks of streams.

Other uses of Cucumber Tree:

The roots are very disease-resistant and are used as a rootstock for less vigorous species. Wood - finely grained, soft, light, durable, not strong. It weighs 29lb per cubic foot. It takes a very good polish and is used for boxes, crates, flooring, cabinet making etc.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed must be kept cold over the winter and should be sown in late winter in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in the spring but it can take 18 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall, though should be well mulched and given some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors. Layering in early spring.

Cultivation of Cucumber Tree:

Rich woods, especially in uplands. Low mountain slopes and the rocky banks of streams.

Known hazards of Magnolia acuminata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.