The largest tree in Illinois is being recognized once again

May 27, 2024 | by

An Illinois conservation group is highlighting a massive tree located in Ogle County.

The Natural Land Institute recognizes a new tree each month. This month’s tree is a 200-year-old eastern cottonwood sitting in Mt. Morris, Illinois. It is considered the largest tree in the state.

Kim Johnsen is the director of marketing and membership at the Institute. She said at one point the organization owned the land that the tree sits on.

“A few months later, after we purchased it Byron Forest Preserve was able to purchase it from us. So, then they acquired the land, and they started doing restoration and through the process of the restoration that they did, they discovered this huge tree.”

She said the size of the tree isn’t the only noticeable characteristic.

“And it has a limb, a huge limb that goes off the side of the tree, and I’ve seen children climbing at it, so, and then this is at this preserve, at a public preserve, Bald Hill. So, it’s a fun tree.”

Jill Kennay

NLI’s Legacy Tree program sprouted in January of this year. Johnsen said the Institute’s executive director, Alan Branhagen, was inspired to start this recognition based on his experience at other organizations.

“And when he came to Rockford,” she said, he had worked here back in the 80s and 90s for about 10 years between 1986 and 97, and he knew that we Rockford especially was known as the Forest City. And he felt like we’d lost a lot of significant trees in our community.”

NLI is partnering with Severson Dells to offer wildflower walkabouts. Johnsen said the cottonwood tree was recognized this month because the next walkabout will take place at the Bald Hill Prairie Preserve on May 29th.



View all

view all