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Big tree old white oak in a sunny clearing

Most Popular Trees in Illinois

Found in hardiness zones 5a to 7a, Illinois is the perfect place to plant a great variety of tree species. Indeed, there are about 250 species of trees in Illinois, the great majority of them being hardwoods such as oak trees. The white oak is the state tree.

Among the most commonly planted trees in Illinois are:

  • Oaks
  • Maples
  • Crab apples
  • Hickories


There are as many as 75 species of oaks in the United States, and at least 36 species are good trees to plant in Illinois. The white oak is one of the most popular. Growing 60 to 100 feet tall, this tree is known for the beauty of its spreading crown when it’s mature and the brilliance of its leaves in the fall. It has attractive, scaly, light gray bark.

Other oaks that can be found in Illinois include the chinquapin oak, which has a narrow, serrated leaf and small, round acorns half covered by their cups. Black oaks also grow in Illinois. They differ from white oaks in that their acorns need two years to fully mature as opposed to one year for white oaks.


Only second to oaks in popularity, maples are also prized for their habit and fall colors, which can be scarlet to orange-red to butter yellow. Though the sugar maple is associated with New England, this tree, with its sugary sap, is also found in Illinois and an excellent shade tree. Other maples found in Illinois include the red maple, black maple, and silver maple. Maples aren’t only known for their fall colors but also for their winged fruits, which are called samaras.

Crab Apples

The crab apple is actually native to Europe, but it has found a home in Illinois as a beautiful ornamental. The profusion of white, pink, or red flowers appears in May, and the fruits, which are edible, appear in the fall and persist on the tree through winter, unless they’re harvested. Unlike cultivated apples, they’re sour but often used in preserves. This tree can grow to about 30 feet tall and is good for a smaller yard or an orchard.


Hickories grow to be large, sturdy trees with bright green compound leaves. They also bear nuts that may or not be edible. One type of hickory that grows in Illinois is the shagbark hickory, named for its beautiful shedding bark. It also produces a delicious nut, even though the husk is hard to crack. Hickories are often found growing among oak trees.

Call Central Arbor Tree Care

Knowing which trees are popular to plant in Illinois is one thing, but knowing how to take care of the tree so that it will live its best life is another. Our arborists are experts when it comes to the care of your trees. Don’t hesitate to contact Central Arbor Tree today to learn more.

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