Wednesday, March 29, 2023


Second Chance for Johnny Appleseed Trees!

Second Chance for Johnny Appleseed Trees!
Elaine Evans
/ Categories: General News

Second Chance for Johnny Appleseed Trees!

Historic bicentennial trees available again for a limited time. Quantities limited!!

Last year the ISHS purchased 120 trees to plant for the Illinois bicentennial. We wanted a special and rare variety to offer for the bicentennial, so we asked an expert for advice.

Gay Sternberg, director of Starhill Forest Arboretum in Petersburg, immediately thought of the early work of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) in the Prairie State. Chapman planted apple nurseries in the early days of the 19th century in Illinois as well as Indiana, Ohio, and other states to the east, using seeds from a cider mill near his original home in Pennsylvania. He then sold apple trees to settlers. According to Sternberg, during Chapman’s barefoot travels, he stayed with friends along the route and planted trees for them as well. The last known surviving tree planted by Chapman is at the Algeo Farm in Nova, Ohio, one of his wayside stops. Some claim it is a Rambo apple, but most arborists just call the tree the “Johnny Appleseed” variety. Unlike the mid-summer Rambo, the Johnny Appleseed variety ripens in September and is a baking-applesauce variety similar to an Albemarle Pippin. 

Sternberg harvested fresh scionwood from this original tree, which was delivered to Forest Kealing Nursery in Elsbury, Missouri, to grow 40 Johnny Appleseed trees for planting in Illinois in 2018. These commemorative trees are sold exclusively by the ISHS, and will be offered first to those counties that did not receive a tree in 2017. It is our intention that one tree for each county be planted in a public space and nurtured by the community, preferably a civic garden club or city park. 

Trees not claimed by counties will be sold to the general public after October 25. To place an order, call 217-525-2781 and ask for Tracy. Only a limited number of trees are available and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Each tree will come with a letter of verification from the Society and the arboretum. 

Price: $60 (plus tax if applicable).

NO DELIVERIES: Trees must be picked up at the ISHS office in Springfield, 5255 Shepherd Road. (Map) You will be notified of pick-up date.

Previous Article Illinois Heritage, September–October 2018
Next Article A Bicentennial Commemorative of the Prairie State
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