Although choices for growing trees in moist soils may be limited, a number of trees can do well in locations with wetter soils. Choosing a tree suited for moist soil means understanding the types of trees that grow best in your area and the type of soil you may have. Some trees, for example, may prefer a soil that is consistently moist, whereas others may be able to get along with soils that occasionally experience some drier times.
One of the most recognizable tree varieties that not only tolerates but thrives in moist soil conditions is the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). It is not unusual to see these trees growing in standing water, but they can also live on dry land, as long as the soil stays moist most of the time. These trees are most commonly associated with the southern swamps of the U.S., but they grow throughout the Atlantic coastal plain as far north as Illinois and as far west as Texas.
The river birch (Betula nigra L.), as its name would suggest, is commonly found in moist areas and is sometimes even referred to as the water birch. The tree is generally not found at higher elevations, but is distributed throughout the eastern half of the United States in lowland areas. The tree needs full sunlight but is adaptable to many different soil pH levels, making it easy to grow in many areas.
Two common varieties of sycamore are found in the United States, the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L.) and the California sycamore (Platanus racemosa Nutt.). The American sycamore is found throughout the eastern United States, up to the Rocky Mountains. The California version is limited just to that state. The tree can survive up to two months in waterlogged soils and is a pioneer species in flood plains and upland areas. Anthracnose and mistletoe are common problems in cultivated trees, but hardly ever affect sycamores in the wild.
Swamp White Oak
A cousin of the white oak, the swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor Willd.) is tolerant of moist soil conditions. The tree is found mainly in the Midwest and Northeast United States, where it grows in elevations less than 3,000 feet and is usually found near a source of water, such as a pond, river or stream. The swamp white oak is capable of being transplanted or can also be grown from seed.