good trees (deciduous or evergreen) for flood plain?

Sarah80August 25, 2014

My parents live in the Pittsburgh area. Zone 6. They want to plant a row of trees along the edge of their property, but the area is in a floodplain, and by floodplain, I mean, any time an inch or more of rain falls, it's underwater at least for a few hours, and in a big rain event it can flood for a few days.

They are looking for what species are good for that, both evergreen and deciduous. They aren't as concerned about screening as just having "something there" as my father says, he hates having open spaces that go from his yard into someone else's.

I don't know much about the soil, but it seems to be a typical clayish type Western PA soil, probably fairly acidic.

Bald Cypress comes to mind, but I am drawing a blank otherwise.

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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

There are quite a few, actually, especially if it really doesn't sit under water more than a few days.


Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)
Nuttall Oak (Quercus nuttallii)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Just about any Willow (Salix spp.) but I personally hate them...
Maybe Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)


About the only one that comes to mind is Chamaecyparis thyoides for your zone - Atlantic Whitecedar (but not actually a Cedar)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 4:48PM
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Northern pecan
Shellbark hickory
Black walnut
Overcup oak
Swamp chestnut oak

Understory trees/plants that they could mix in, if desired:
American hornbeam

All of the above are present in the riparian areas along the creek on our farm, and we do get periodic, short-term flooding/inundation - usually less than a day at a time, but all of those could handle a few days with no problems.
Boxelders and green ash are also a predominant tree in this setting, but the ash are likely goners when EAB moves in, and boxelders don't offer much for me to like, other than holding the creekbanks in place.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:18PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Boxelders line most of the creeks here in MD, pretty much any bottomland or periodically flooded area has some, but yeah, they don't do much for me either.

Your suggestions are also all good. I forgot Shellbark Hickory is a riparian tree.

Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) would do OK if the crown itself could sit high enough to avoid flooding, but I wouldn't recommend it in the case above. They are common creekside trees here in MD, although the crowns are usually high enough uphill from the water to avoid most flooding.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:29PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

crikey ...

every county in the USA has a soil conservation office ..

contact them ... they have specific information on get this.. soil conservation.... which is EXACTLY what you intend to do ...

many such states... thru these offices.. sell small... cheap ... APPROPRIATE plants for your state ..

get the lists they provide.. and then bring them back here.. and we can discuss the pros and cons of such..

and most importantly.. HOW TO PLANT THEM.. that will be the real trick to success ... especially if you have that famous OH clay ... that romans could have used to pave the world.. lol ...

and with OSU .. farm college of the world .. lol .. i am sure you need look no further than OH for lists...

i love my peeps here.. but recommendations from MD.. KY ... may or may not be appropriate ... especially with planting near water ... yet i would NOT be surprised.. if they are spot on ... so lets test them..

i will start you at the link .. add the words PLANT SALE ... to the search ... to follow that lead ...


ps: i reread.. PA eh .. lol .. change all my OHs to PAs ... lol ... and at the link ....but you can still buy the plants in OH.. and take them to PA ... if they remain appropriate ....

pps: who needs actual facts.. lol.. just start typing....

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:09PM
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My first thought is birch. River birch (Betula nigra), Gray birch Gray Birch (Betula populifolia). Maybe White spruce (Picea glauca)? Pin Oak? Swamp White Oak? Green Ash (Fraxinus

This post was edited by edlincoln on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 12:47

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 12:44PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Metasequoia probably is a good one they seem to live in all of Ohio.

Nyssa sylvatica or Nyssa aquatica maybe. Check nyssa aquatica cold hardiness.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Might recommend Gopher wood. LOL!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 2:45PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I think N. aquatica is good to zone 6 - might be marginal in Ohio in a very cold winter.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 3:27PM
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Perfect place for a wingnut tree (pterocarya sp.)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 3:43PM
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Two of our best native floodplain species are no more-or at least, are not usable at this time......American elm, the quintessential floodplain tree, and green ash, perhaps not quite so majestic, but still a key player in such sites. Either gone, going away in the case of the green ash, or thankfully, one of the many other good suggestions found above.

Don't know how "native" these two would be in your neck of the woods, but around here, such a site may well have species Thuja occidentalis present, as well as Larix laricina-tamarack. Maybe in the Pittsburgh area these two would be a bit of a stretch, I'm not sure.

Then too, many shrub species are well-adapted to just such sites. Too many to list, but the term "shrub-carr" is used by ecologists to describe this type of plant community. Can also be a fascinating setup[.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 1:55PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Well, except for the DED-resistant U. americana cultivars - 'Princeton', 'Valley Forge' etc.

Elm Yellows are still a concern, though.

Pittsburgh summers might be a bit too steamy for L. laricina to thrive, but I'm not sure.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 2:36PM
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Sweetbay magnolia.
Look up online. They live in your area.
They can easily live in an inch of water, used for the purpose you need. Perfect tree for you.
It is semi evergreen in your area, but still, very nice NATIVE tree that requires little care.
The first growing season, mulch it up good, if you can, or when you can, and try to keep it wet its first summer.
Once it gets established, your good to go.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 9:28PM
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