Photos of Magnolia acuminata, Cucumber magnolia.

Magnolia acuminata, Cucumber magnolia. Charles Plumier, a French botanist and monk, named the genus in 1703. He named the genus for Pierre Magnol, one of France’s most illustrious botanists of his day. Found from southern Ontario, adjacent western New York, south through the Appalachians to southern Alabama, then jumps the Mississippi, to southern Arkansas, as well as scattered in the Ozarks to the north. The distinctive leaves, are oblong, seven to ten inches long and four to six inches broad, with a narrow sharp point at the tip. The upward-turned bell-shaped flowers, greenish to pale yellow, bloom from April to June. The cucumber magnolia's inner bark was formerly used as a treatment for "intermittent fevers" such as malaria and typhoid fevers, also for indigestion, rheumatism, worms, and toothache. Bark chewed to break tobacco habit. A tincture made from the fruits of the cucumber magnolia were useful as a tonic and stomachic in dyspepsia and general debility. These ancient survivors of a prehistoric forest are among the most handsome trees harbored in southern forests.

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