If you had to choose for wet sites: apple, pear, chestnut, or persimmon

I have a spot in river bottom that I intend to home some excess trees as deer (and, doubtless, squirrel) food. It is probably somewhere between 1 and 3 feet above the water level, and doesn’t routinely hold standing water, but can flood in spring for a week or so…currently it holds some hickory and other assorted hardwoods, but it is without question low land and part of the floodplain. This year we had a ton of rain and for a week it may have had carp swimming over it.

I have a number of American persimmons, a bunch of apples on various rootstocks, some pears on various OHxF, and a number of European/Asian chestnut hybrids Castanea was nice enough to share seeds for last year, which all appear to be doing well.

What’s least likely to waterlog into a sick/dead/toppled tree? Any thoughts?

Thanks guys!

I know this isn’t on your list of things you have so it might be useless info to you, but most of the wild paw paw trees I see grow near rivers and in wet areas and do well. Based on that observation, I planted some of my own in an area on my place that often floods and stays VERY wet much of the year. Yet those pawpaws have done really well.

If you are doing this mostly for deer then you could just plant paw paw seeds or seedlings you start in a pot. I know for sure they will take water really well.

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I have pawpaw too, actually, but had heard deer don’t really care for them as a mast crop.

mostly I’m hoping to pull tasty snack-sticks on hooves into my property and shooting range…


I have seen wild persimmons growing just several yards from the river shore.

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I think at least when it comes to apples and pears the real question is about the rootstock. I have read more than once that G30 is the best rootstock for apples when it comes to wet conditions, but there is no specifics about exactly what wet conditions means. I’m not sure any apple rootstock could take being flooded for a week.

If you really want fruit trees there that aren’t native to river beds and flooded areas and such, have you thought of making a raised area for where you are planting the tree so it can get its feet out of the water? Just a thought, and best of luck to you.

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Pears are generally more accepting of wet feet than apples. You could also try making mounds to plant into so as to increase drainage,


this is already something of a stealth project, in a distant area; mounds are probably out but it may also be a “just shut up and try it, and see what works” sort of project…

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i remember seeing crab apples planted in shelterbelts where they passed over a wetland. The lowest spot would have willows and then crab apples on the edge. This was in ND where the late summers are often hot and dry.

for sure not chestnuts. they are a dryland, southern slope, long taproot type of tree.

Many things have already been said but I would love to hear responses from people who have this type of land. Pawpaw can live after water has went over them! What you can’t plant is cherries and grapes. I personally find some callery pear rootstock very resistant to water but not all of them. I think persimmon can be water resistant but not all of them are it depends on genetics just like the callery pear. If I can offer advice go to similar locations and get your rootstock from a location that floods a lot. @39thparallel and I have dug up callery from an area with constant standing water. In addition to my other advice don’t think these highly resistant rootstocks graft the same as other trees because they are genetically unique. There are scrubby apple trees I know of that tolerate water though I can’t recall their name but they live in near standing water conditions like the callery pears I told you about.

If you have to plant mast trees, I’d go with apple and crab seedlings and see what lives. Then graft to some after a few years. Otherwise, I’d suggest rethinking and orienting toward providing browse and cover for deer. White spruce, black hills spruce, white cedar for thermal cover with some protection to get started. Then shrubs that take wet like various dogwoods, viburnums, elderberry. Maybe cut down some of the hickory or others to encourage stump sprouting and regeneration.

Not sure if deer care for blueberry, but wild high bush blueberry literally can grow with their roots in water. Picked some wild ones this year from a boat, they are growing on the island shore with half of the roots submerged in lake water.

See what the native plants are doing. I have wild grape, Hops, persimmon, asparagus and brambles. None of them grow where it floods often. I do see Callery pears growing in near swamps. I grafted Peary pears on Callery rootstocks on my lowest ground. I also have a couple quince there because I read they also tolerate wet feet.

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Malus fusca can supposedly be used as an apple rootstock for wet conditions. One of its common names is swamp crabapple and is from the coastal Pacific NW. I have some cider varieties grafted to it and will be planting them in a wet spot in my yard. You can get M. fusca from Raintree and Burnt Ridge Nursery.


Personally, I think planting pears in the woods is a mistake in general, especially if they are on callary root stock. Callary is an invasive exotic species that suckers and produces thickets of thorns. Of course deer love thickets of thorns, but overall that’s not good for native species or the environment in general, and it make traversing the woods more difficult and prickly for humans.

My recommendation is put in natives. Deer love our native persimmon, but I don’t recall ever seeing them on anything like a natural levy. Something that deer do love that do great under such conditions is chestnut oaks. Deer love the acorns and the natural levy that hugs the river channel is the habitat where I see them the most. If chestnut oak does not grow in your area, consider other species in the white oak sub genus. In addition, many hawthorns and other crabapple like things grow in bottomlands. Those are possibilities as well. But seriously, planting pears in the wild is just a bad for the environment and will have lots of negative consequences for all land owners in the area over the long term. God bless.