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Plant Focus

Quercus peninsularis
A Red Oak (Section Lobatae) endemic to inland ranges of northern Baja California, Mexico

Pre-Conference Tour

Event Date: 
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 to Saturday, 17 October 2015



Registration for the Pre-Conference Tour will remain open on the website of The Morton Arboretum till September 22nd, 2015 (so long as spaces are still available). To register, click here

Visit the Events Forum to communicate with other members who are registering for the Tour (e.g., if you are looking for a roommate!)

The five-day Pre-Conference Tour will explore Southern and Central Illinois, including oak habitats ranging from classic southern Taxodium swamps to sandstone ridges and canyons, flatwoods communities, mesic and riparian forests, barrens, sand prairie, and savannas. We will stay at rustic but comfortable lodges along the way (two nights at Giant City State Park and two nights at Riverbank Lodge) and travel for five days from St. Louis, Missouri down through the Illinois Ozarks and then gradually move northeast more than 400 miles to The Morton Arboretum. We expect to see about 20 native species and nothospecies of oaks (plus hundreds of others in cultivation at Starhill Forest), including some state and national champion specimens as well as their companion species. One evening will be spent with local wines at the famous Longshadow Gardens and another with a private candlelight tour of the historic village where Abraham Lincoln lived. We also will visit Lincoln's Tomb, during the 150th anniversary year of his death. Autumn color, while variable in timing, should be in full display, and it will be seed season for oaks! The trip must be restricted to the first 50 applicants due to limited available lodging and transportation.

Tour leaders: Guy Sternberg and Alana McKean, with Henry "Weeds" Eilers. 


Prior to tour (for early arrivals in St. Louis)

Missouri Botanic Garden (www.missouribotanicalgarden.org) and/or Gateway Arch (www.gatewayarch.com) on your own

Those arriving by car will board the bus at Riverbank Lodge in Petersburg at 7:00 AM on 13 October.
A block of rooms will be reserved for you for Monday night if you register by 31 May.

DAY 1   Tuesday 13 October
Sunrise: 7:00am, Sunset: 6:14pm

  • Leave Pear Tree Inn hotel in St. Louis at 9:30 AM
  • Lunch at 17th Street Bar & Grill in southern Illinois (32 N. 17th Street, Murphysboro, IL 62966)
  • Cliff View Park in Alto Pass to see sandstone escarpment forest (Ozark peneplain)
  • National Champion Quercus shumardii on Ellis Farm
  • Pine Hills (Shawnee National Forest) Mississippi River Ozark bluff forest
  • Overnight and dinner at Giant City Lodge
  • Evening social in Lodge

DAY 2   Wednesday 14 October
Sunrise: 7:01am, Sunset: 6:13pm

  • Breakfast, optional observation tower overview of Shawnee Hills western mesophytic forest
  • Rocky Hollow at Ferne Clyffe (sandstone canyon forest)
  • Heron Pond (swamp boardwalk, old growth hydric forest, state champion Quercus pagoda)
  • Lunch at Blue Sky winery in southern Illinois (3150 South Rocky Comfort Rd, Makanda, IL 62958)
  • Cache River, ancient Taxodium swamp
  • Longshadow Gardens for tour and sunset reception
  • Overnight and dinner at Giant City Lodge

DAY 3   Thursday 15 October
Sunrise: 7:02am, Sunset: 6:11pm

  • North to Quercus stellata flatwoods highway rest area near Salem
  • North to Shoal Creek for noon tour and picnic lunch with Weeds Eilers
  • Ortet tree of Quercus ×deamii ‘Champion Seedless’, mature Q. muehlenbergii
  • Power Farm Lincoln courthouse and Catalpa speciosa planted in 1821
  • Evening private candlelight tour of New Salem Historic Village
  • Late catered dinner at Riverbank Lodge
  • Overnight at Riverbank Lodge 

DAY 4   Friday 16 October
Sunrise: 7:03am, Sunset: 6:09pm

  • Ortet tree of Riverbank Oak (Quercus ×warei ‘Riverbank’)
  • Carya illinoinensis pioneer plantation from 1858 at Stone Farm
  • Oak Ridge Cemetery, Lincoln’s Tomb, ortet tree of Quercus alba ‘Lincoln’, others, box lunch at Oak Ridge
  • Explore Starhill Forest, dinner wiener roast sponsored by Illinois College
  • Overnight at Riverbank Lodge, seed sorting & social in lower hall

DAY 5    Saturday 17 October 
Sunrise: 7:04am, Sunset: 6:08pm

  • Sand Prairie-Scrub Oak Nature Preserve (sand forest)
  • Bloomington Giant Quercus macrocarpa and box lunch
  • Walk or drive on remnant of the US Mother Road (Route 66) in Livingston County
  • Arrive at Morton Arboretum

Highlights expected

Large or old oak specimens: 

Quercus alba
Q. imbricaria
Q. lyrata
Q. macrocarpa
Q. marilandica
Q. michauxii
Q. muehlenbergii
Q. pagoda

Q. rubra
Q. shumardii
Q. stellata
Q. velutina
Q. ×bebbiana
Q. ×bushii
Q. ×deamii
Q. ×leana
Q. ×runcinata
Q. ×warei

Other oaks: More than 250 oak taxa at Starhill Forest, ranging from seedlings to 150+ years of age

Other significant trees, habitats, sites, features:

  • Many trees will be in peak autumn color with seeds available
  • Seven Carya species, many other native trees
  • Several champion trees
  • Blufftop Ozark forest overview at Cliff View Park
  • Mississippi River Ozark bluff forest at Pine Hills
  • Shawnee Hills western mesophytic forests at Ferne Clyffe, Giant City
  • Taxodium distichum Nyssa aquatica swamp forests at Cache River, Heron Pond
  • Old growth flatwoods forest at Salem
  • Barrens forest at Shoal Creek
  • Sand forest in Mason County
  • Fine crafted dry-cast limestone work and sandstone canyon at Longshadow
  • President Lincoln’s Tomb and New Salem 1830s historic village
  • Historic Route 66 (the US “Mother Road”)
  • Geology and pedology from three glacial periods
  • Wildlife viewing as encountered


Below are photos of some of the highlights we'll be seeing on the Tour:

One of the many trees that will be visited in the Pre-Conference Tour: An impressive Quercus shumardii, here showing off its roots next to tour leader Guy Sternberg's 200-centimeter human scale bar. 
Taxodium distichum in Heron Pond, Cache River State Natural Area.

Quercus pagoda along our hiking route

Ozark sandstone bluff forest at Cliff View Park, Alto Pass.

35-meter trees in Rocky Hollow at Ferne Clyffe

New Salem, the historic village where Abraham Lincoln lived and matured, will be seen via a private candlelight tour.

The Longshadow Gardens (http://www.longshadow.com/) will host us for wine, cheese, and a close look at their famous dry-cast limestone garden planters. (Photo: Daniel and Charlotte Ward)

We will see the Framing Oak and many other special trees at Lincoln's Tomb

The Power Farm Catalpa, planted in 1821

Spend an afternoon with Guy, Edie, and Alana exploring 2000 different woody taxa (750 Quercus) at Starhill Forest Arboretum, followed by an evening cookout. 

Quercus marilandica as an outlier from the sand forest in Mason County

Quercus stellata flatwoods south of Salem

Rocky Hollow in Ferne Clyffe State Park 

Photos: Guy Sternberg, unless specified.

Event Category: