Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bigleaf Magnolia, Large-leaved Cucumber Tree
Magnolia macrophylla

Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia (mag-NO-lee-a) (Info)
Species: macrophylla (mak-roh-FIL-uh) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

21 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 24 photos.
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11 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive FlyPoison On Mar 5, 2014, FlyPoison from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

When it comes to positive attributes, this rare native has many. If you want to add a very interesting conversation piece in your garden, look no further. I've found it easy to grow and extremely drought tolerant in my southeastern wooded preserve. Other deciduous magnolias that are worth trying are the Ash Magnolia, endemic to FL, the Pyramid Magnolia and Cucumber Magnolia.

Another wonderful and underutilized magnolia is the evergreen Sweet Bay Magnolia. Often found naturally in wetter areas, it can also grow in drier conditions. I prefer it to the much more popular Southern Magnolia.

Positive jwmoon1029 On Nov 10, 2013, jwmoon1029 from Powder Springs, GA wrote:

There are several big leaf magnolias that grow on some family owned property in Paulding county Georgia. The trees huge leaves and beautiful blooms are an enjoyable addition to the area. Several people have commented on these trees.

Positive Phellos On Jul 17, 2013, Phellos from Port Vincent, LA wrote:

I find this plant to be quite beautiful. I have seen it growing along native hillsides here in Louisiana. Around here, it despises full sun. The more shade, the better. I have had great difficulty over the years mimicking the proper growing conditions in my garden. I have had individuals struggle from both too dry and too wet conditions IN THE SAME AREA. I find that this plant does best when planted in very well-drained soil with plenty of mulch.

Positive Mlgcohio On May 13, 2013, Mlgcohio from Grove City, OH wrote:

I have acquired this plant, a few of them in fact in 2011 from a friend in Southeastern Ohio that was clearing a piece of wooded land for access to his pond and just this one survived the past two winters & the drought last year. The ones I have seen around his pond are the coolest blooming trees I have ever seen in Ohio. Once I finally figured out what this tree was I wanted to find out more about it to help it grow to maturity around my new back patio in Grove City Ohio.
I need to move the tree as the spot it is growing will not work permanently.
I have a SSW facing patio and would really like to get it moved now & not risk killing it.
I have placed a lot of good topsoil around this patio but the underlying soil is clay which Im not sure about this tree growing in? I was thinking of planting it on the SSW corner of my home & let it grow to provide shade, privacy, & beauty for out patio.
Does anyone have advice to help me succeed in my endeavor?

Positive Raewyn2 On Jan 20, 2013, Raewyn2 from Waipukerau
New Zealand wrote:

I bought a home in New Zealand in the North Island with a mature Magnolia macrophylla. It is the only one I have ever seen here and no garden centre or horticulturist was able to identify it. The nearest we came was seboldii. Have just discovered it is macryphylla and am amazed that it is here in New Zealand. It has produced a seedling, true to type which is in a pot. The house was owned by an old lady who had lived there for 45 years until she entered a rest home and passed. So no one to ask how she came by it. The garden is very small and has some nice varieties of unusual plants.
Does anyone know how this tree came to be in New Zealand?
I just love it. The light shining through the pale jade leaves and those enormous flowers look like white herons perching in the tree. I enjoy the way it produces flowers over a period of time not all at once and those red cones! I am going to try to grow more from seed. any suggestions on best method?

Positive DIXIELADY87 On Sep 23, 2012, DIXIELADY87 from Pearl, MS wrote:

My first experience with the big leaf magnolia was in 1982 when I saw my first one at Bankhead National Forest in Double Springs, AL. They were magnificent and they were very prolific. They were usually at the edge of the dense forest and were in very moist rich soil. I later found them in MS as well and acquired 8 and planted them in a shaded area of my mothers front yard. Five are alive today and have several small ones. Two were propagated from seed because they are located several feet from the adults and four are coming from the parent as an offshoot or runner. They produce wonderful shade in the summer and are very fragrent.

Positive raymondct On Sep 3, 2011, raymondct from Meriden, CT wrote:

We've got 1 specimen growing in our yard way up in Connecticut. Obviously not native but it does great in all weather and seasons. Sadly we lost a good portion of it in hurricance Irene, but I know the tree will live on, as it has lost major branches and has had a split in the trunk for years with no ill effects. This tree gives tons of shade with it's huge leaves and lends a tropical look right next to our pool.

Positive RobinLane On Jul 18, 2011, RobinLane from Loretto, TN wrote:

This is now my favorite tree! My husband and I discovered a grove of Bigleaf Magnolias canopied in the woods on our farm in southern Middle Tennessee, and they looked like magical, green umbrellas overhead. There were babies popping up everywhere. We dug up a rather smallish one, and it has thrived in a pot for over a year. We will plant it this fall near our house. A naturalist here identified it as a Cowcumber Tree. That is the common name rather than Cucumber Tree, I believe. And, we were thrilled to discover that it is a native tree!

Positive alkinley On Apr 9, 2011, alkinley from Gastonia, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Have these growing naturally in the woods along a creek at my home near Gastonia, NC (Spencer Mtn. area).

Positive Fires_in_motion On Jan 5, 2011, Fires_in_motion from Vacherie, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

The only specimen I've seen in person was at Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, MS. I have to say it looked pretty raggedy, but then again, this was on a 98 day in July. (It was growing in a very shady mature forest nook, though.) The forest guide dude was really excited to tell me about it, so that's how I knew it was not your everyday magnolia. They looked like an even uglier Catalpa to me, to be honest, but it was pretty cool to see such a rare-ish native tree up close. So I'm giving this tree a "Positive" rating simply because I can find no rationale to give it a Neutral or Negative just based on not being aesthetically pleasing to me.

Update, Oct. 2011: The guide told me that the tree looks bad because a kid had swung from it and split it, so he put some screws in it to heal the split.

Positive sladeofsky On Aug 6, 2006, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is an amazing tree which is not as well known as it should be in the garden. With leaves up to 80cm. long it holds the record as the plant with the largest simple leaves in North America. And even though the evergreen Southern Magnolia has the honor of being named Magnolia Grandiflora, Magnolia Macrophylla has the largest single flower in North America. The gigantic leaves on the single stick saplings fool many as being banana trees. The Umbrella Magnolia which also has large leaves is sometimes confused with the Big Leaf Magnolia. Leaf shape is one easy way of differentiating. The Umbrella Magnolia has cuneate (wedge-shaped) leafe bases whereas the Big Leaf Magnolia has auriculate (ear-shaped) leaf bases. This is an understory forest tree. In cultivation it should be planted in a semi-sheltered site to protect it from strong winds which may shred its massive leaves. Plant this tree and you will soon fall in love with the sound of rain beginning to fall on its leaves in Spring and the gentle thud of the leaves falling in Autumn.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Spanish Fort, Alabama
Los Altos, California
Meriden, Connecticut
New London, Connecticut
New Preston Marble Dale, Connecticut
Atlanta, Georgia
Canton, Georgia
Cornelia, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Lawrence, Kansas
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Louisville, Kentucky
Pippa Passes, Kentucky
Slade, Kentucky
Denham Springs, Louisiana
Oscar, Louisiana
Annapolis, Maryland
Centreville, Maryland
Jackson, Mississippi
Moselle, Mississippi
Picayune, Mississippi (2 reports)
Lincoln, Nebraska
Exeter, New Hampshire
Bayside, New York
Highland, New York
Ithaca, New York
Rochester, New York
Gastonia, North Carolina
Huntersville, North Carolina
Statesville, North Carolina
Youngsville, North Carolina
Grove City, Ohio
West Chester, Ohio
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Christiana, Tennessee
Corryton, Tennessee
Loretto, Tennessee
Tracy City, Tennessee
Haslet, Texas
Houston, Texas
White Center, Washington
Eglon, West Virginia

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