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Tree Picks for Soggy Spots

With all the rain we have been having in St Louis lately we thought it was a good time to share our favorite trees that are known for tolerating wet soil conditions.

Remember right tree right place?  Plant roots need oxygen to breathe, just like us.  When there is too much water in an area there is no room for the roots to grasp the oxygen.   However, some trees are more acclimated to this wet soil.

We’ve complied a list of some of our favorite Missouri native trees to use in those soggy spots of your property.


Trees that tolerate wet soils:

Black Walnut, Junglans nigra

Many are familiar with Black Walnut for the edible nuts that drop between September-October. These trees also make great shade trees growing up to 90 feet tall with a straight trunk and rounded crown.

Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera

This tree also features large flowers and a stately appearance while growing to over 100 feet.

Bitternut Hickory, Carya cordiformis

A good choice for a shade tree or a street tree, they grow to between 50-80 feet tall.

Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor

A designated Plant of Merit by the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  Plants of Merit are plants selected for their outstanding quality and dependable performance for the lower Midwest. They grow consistently well in Missouri.

Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis

These can grow quite large so be sure you have the space.  We love to admire the multi colored bark of these trees all over St. Louis.

Hackberry, Celtis occudentalis

A good shade tree, these also have unique bark patterns that resemble a corky texture.

Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum

This tree naturally occurs in swamps and wet bottomland forests of south eastern Missouri.  The straight upright form of this tree could create striking contrast for your yard.  These trees have been known to grow in very wet soils, where they can survive by forming pneumatophores, known to many as “knees”.


Honorable Mention Evergreen: 

Sweetbay Magnolia. (c)2008 Derek Ramsey  via Wikimedia Commons

Sweetbay Magnolia. (c)2008 Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons

We wanted to add an evergreen to the list but since so few Missouri natives keep their leaves all year, we had to make an acceptation. The Sweet Bay Magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, is found in the Eastern United States, but grows well in the St. Louis Region.  Unlike other magnolias, the Sweet Bay tolerates wet boggy soils.  This tree has the added benefit of being evergreen and features beautiful flowers May-June.

Most of the trees listed here are actually tolerant of a range of soil conditions, not only wet sites.  In addition, these are not the only native trees that can survive in poorly drained soil.  Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden Website for more suggestions.