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.