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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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March 11, 2020

Trees for Extremely Wet Areas

After a heavy rain, excess water can collect and pool in low spots. Stagnant water attracts pest and diseases, promotes root rot, and shifts the soil microbiome balance from aerobic to anaerobic. St. Louis soil, which is clay-based, becomes void of oxygen quickly. Consequently, the roots of many trees and plants rot in these conditions. Fortunately, certain native trees not only tolerate water-logged soil, they help soak up excess water in poor draining areas and look good while doing so.

Bald Cypress

Reaches 50 to 70 feet tall. Very adapted to most moisture levels, as it often dwells in swamps. Tennis ball sized smooth green cones that linger all winter. Lace-like foliage that turns russet-red in the fall and sheds.

River Birch

Reaches 40 to 60 feet in height. Thrives in stagnant wet areas. A native tree that provides all-season interest and dappled shade.


Reaches 30-50 feet tall. Prefers moist, acidic soils. Tolerates poorly-drained soils and can grow in standing water. Pyramidal form with gorgeous fall color and wildlife benefits.

Swamp White Oak

Reaches 50-60 feet tall. Easily grown in average, medium to wet, acidic soil in full sun. Hundreds of caterpillars and birds are supported by oaks.

Dawn Redwood

Reaches 70-100 feet tall. Fast growing deciduous conifer with feathery foliage and cute small cones. Appreciates consistent moisture. Tolerates some wet clay soils.

Willow Oak

Reaches 40-75 feet tall. Untypical of an oak, the leaves are narrow and non-lobed. Adapts to a wide range of soil conditions including clays with somewhat poor drainage. Great wildlife value.

bald cypress
Bald cypress
bald cypress cones
bald cypress
bald cypress fall
Bald cypress
River birch
River birch
River birch
Blackgum fruit
Blackgum tree
swamp white oak
swamp white oak
Dawn redwood
Dawn redwood
Willow oak
Willow oak leaves and acorn

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