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Native Deciduous Magnolias
(Magnolia acuminata, M. fraseri, M. macrophylla, M. tripetala)

Four species of native deciduous magnolias found in East Tennessee bloom in late April and May. Specimens of all four can be seen at the Arboretum.

Cucumber Tree Cucumber Tree (M. acuimata) is widespread in eastern North America and is one of the more common magnolias found in the Oak Ridge area. It produces greenish-yellow flowers in late April and has leaves 4 to 12 in. long with pointed (acuminate) tips. The fruit is green when young, resembling a cucumber, and turns pink to red in the fall as it matures. The bitter fruits purportedly were used in the past to flavor whiskey. The wood has been used for furniture pallets, crates, and plywood.

Fraser Magnolia Fraser Magnolia (M. fraseri) is found in the Southern Appalachians. Its large leaves (usually 10-15 inches in length, but up to 20 in. long, and 6 in. or more wide) have ear-shaped lobes at their base and are broadest above the middle. Its flowers have creamy white petals and are up to 10 in. across. The trees are often branched at the base.

Big Leaf Magnolia In our area of E. Tennessee, Bigleaf Magnolia (M. macrophylla) Is found most commonly in the Smoky Mountains and on the Cumberland Plateau. It has very large leaves (12-36 in. long, 7-12 in. wide) that are bright green above and fuzzy, silver/gray beneath. The leaves are lobed at the base and widest near the tip. The large ivory colored flowers are 10-20 inches in diameter and appear in late spring/early summer.

Umbrella Magnolia Umbrella Magnolia (M. tripetala) is found throughout E. Tennessee. Its leaves are 10-24 in. long, tapered at the base, and usually widest near the tips. The leaves occur as whorled clusters at the tips of the stem, resembling an umbrella. The creamy white flowers are 6-8 inches in diameter.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
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