The Midwest Collection is The Morton Arboretum's youngest geographic collection, begun in 1999. It contains woody and herbaceous plants native to the northern half of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri. This is a transitional area characterized by a mixture of prairie, savanna, and woodlands. Over the years, much of this region of the U.S. has been converted into farmland. As a result, natural areas have become very fragmented. Parts of this collection are made-up of well preserved woods that demonstrate the diversity of regional flora.
The Northern Illinois and Midwest Collections plantings provide a good representation of the native plants of this region. They serve as an educational resource for classes and individuals interested in learning about native trees and shrubs, while also providing an assemblage of regional natives for the home landscape.
Wild-derived plants make up 93% of these collections. There are 171 different kinds. One of them is a federally threatened species, lakeside daisy (Tetraneuris herbacea). Another rare plant in this collection is the Illinois endangered bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi var. coactilis) which finds habitat along the sandy soils surrounding Lake Michigan. The red pines (Pinus resinosa) found in this collection were collected from an endangered population of red pines in Illinois.
The assemblage of oaks in these collections are noteworthy, with a total of thirteen species represented. Other notable plants in this collection are: pin oak (Quercus palustris)—look for the large tree in the back of the collection whose limbs reach the ground like a skirt. Black tupelo or black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)—look for great fall colors of scarlet and purple and wildlife feeding on its black-blue fruit. Kentucky viburnum or arrowwood (Viburnum molle) has flaky bark and good fall color.