Hardy, deciduous, North American tree
Description: Greenish-yellow, bell-shaped flowers appear with leaves in early spring. Cucumber-like fruits are green at first, and covered with purplish-red fruits in fall.
Habit: Grows to 100 feet high but seldom over 40 feet
Culture: Prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, humus-rich soil
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 through 8
This magnificent North American tree was first discovered in 1736 by Virginia's early botanist, John Clayton. Jefferson considered the tree as an ornamental species in his only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781). He requested plants in a letter dated January 17, 1786 to John Bartram, Jr., the Philadelphia botanist and nurseryman, and in 1810 Jefferson planted “Cucumber tree seeds” in his nursery at Monticello. In 1802 the French naturalist, Francois Michaux, observed the cucumber tree on the banks of the Juniata River in Pennsylvania and remarked: "The inhabitants…pick the cones when green, to infuse in whiskey, which gives it a pleasant bitter…[and which is] much esteemed…as a preventive against intermittent fevers, but I have my doubts whether it would be so generally used if it had the same qualities when mixed with water."