Since 1962 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has registered the largest native trees in the state. The Illinois Big Tree Register is a cooperative effort between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to bring recognition and appreciation for the largest native tree species in our state. To qualify the tree must be one of the 184+ species native to Illinois. Homeowners are welcome to nominate their own trees or any tree they feel deserves consideration as entry into the annual register. Click here for instructions on properly measuring the tree. “Scoring” is based on a point system established by American Forests®. Tree nominations are accepted throughout the year, but there are cut-off dates for inclusion in the next published Illinois Big Tree Register.DuPage County is the current home for two national tree champions. The largest nationally recorded Ohio buckeye is located in Oak Brook and the largest Kansas hawthorn tree is located at Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Did you know there are many native Illinois tree species that do not have a current champion? Illinois residents are encouraged to search local parks, forests and even your own property for future state tree champions. Both the tree owner and locator are awarded champion big tree certificates when winners have been determined. Searching for Illinois state champion trees is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature and create awareness for the diversity of Illinois forests.

2 Responses

  1. I know that the Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) has been among the “ineligible” species for the Illinois Big Tree Register listing.

    Do you know if that the cottonwood is still excluded? If so: Why is it excluded?

    Thanks for any hints and information.

    –Morris Vos, Macomb, Illinois

    1. Thank you for your comment to our blog post. We appreciate the interest!

      I did a little research and did not see that the Eastern Cottonwood was excluded from the Big Tree Register. In fact, it was listed as currently not having a champion size registered. Of course, the latest information I found was from 2013.

      Follow this link , to be directed to the Illinois Extension website for more information. The Illinois Big Tree Register form on this website has more information, specifically mentioning the Eastern Cottonwood. To verify this information, I would recommend directly contacting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources or the Illinois Extension service. Contact information is on the website link above.

      I hope this information helps! Thank you again for your comment.

      Kramer Tree Specialists

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