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Trees for the rainy season in Cape Town

Poorly drained soil and gardens with a high-water table can become saturated with water at certain periods during the rainy season.

When water does not drain away, the air pockets between the soils particles get filled with water, creating poor oxygen levels in the soil. When oxygen levels are low or unavailable, basic plant functions cease and tree health will decline and can eventually cause death.

In areas where this is a yearly occurrence, it would be better to consider planting trees that can tolerate very wet soil conditions for a short period during the rainy season. Only two tree species can grow successfully in waterlogged areas, namely a Swamp Cyprus and Mangrove Trees.

Many indigenous tree species will only grow in well drained moist conditions. They are naturally found growing in the forested areas next to streams in the low-lying ravines.  These trees have adapted to their environment by sending most of their roots up into the surrounding embankments. Thus, always having some roots in well drained upper embankments when the streams are in full flow.

See below a list of trees that can be grown in various degrees of moisture:

Trees for wet sites – Deciduous trees

   

Common name

Latin name

Habitat

Soil Conditions tolerated

Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum

Moist shade

Well-drained soil only

Silver Birch

Betula pendula

Moist shade

Well-drained soil only

Pecan

Carya illinoensis

Wet soil

Can tolerate Clay

American Ash

Fraxinus americana

Wet soil/ Moist shade

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Sweetgum

Liquidambar styraciflua

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Clay

London planetree

Platanus x acerifolia

Wet soil

Can tolerate Clay

Eastern cottonwood

Populus deltoides

Wet soil/ Moist shade

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Chinese popular

Populus simonii

Wet soil/ Moist shade

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Water oak

Quercus nigra

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Pin oak

Quercus palustris

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Weeping willow

Salix babylonica

Wet soil

Can tolerate Clay

Swamp cypress

Taxodium distichum

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Fever Tree

Vachelia (Acacia) xanthophloea

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Clay

Paperbark

Vachelia (Acacia) sieberiana

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Clay

Trees for Wet Sites – Evergreen Trees

   

Common name

Latin name

Habitat

Soil conditions tolerated

Red Elder

Cunonia capensis

Damp areas

Well-drained soil only

Weeping bottlebrush

Callistemon viminalis

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

River bushwillow

Combretum erythrophyllum

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Forest bushwillow

Combretum kraussii

Extended wet conditions

Can tolerate Heavy Clay

Port Jackson Fig

Ficus rubiginosa

Damp areas

Well-drained soil to Clay

Cape holly

Ilex mitis

 Moist shade

Well-drained soil only

Southern magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora

Wet soil

Well- drained to Clay

Water Pear

Syzygium guineense

Wet soil

Clay

Water Berry

Syzygium cordatum

Extended wet conditions

Clay

 

 

 

 

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