- Education and Science»
- Life Sciences
Trees That Help to Prevent Floods
Floods occur when heavy rain falls in low-lying areas that do not have proper drainage systems. Floods can also occur when rivers and lakes overflow due to heavy rainfall or when a dam breaks down.
Flash floods occur within a few hours after a heavy rainfall. In these types of floods, places are flooded in a matter of seconds.
Flash floods occur mostly due to slow moving thunderstorms. They can be very dangerous in narrow canyons and valleys. In such places, the rainwater rushes down rapidly flooding the area.
How trees help to prevent flooding?
The roots of the trees penetrate deep into the soil. As the roots grow deep into the soil, they loosen the soil and create many empty spaces between the soil particles. When there is a heavy rainfall the rainwater runs down into these spaces created by the roots. Due to this rainwater does not flood the area.
Trees break the flow of water to the ground and slows down the speed at which rainwater reaches the ground. This gives enough time for the rainwater to seep into the soil and prevent the rise of water level.
The extensive root system of trees absorbs huge quantities of rainwater. Many trees can absorb a large volume of rainwater thereby preventing flooding.
The roots of trees hold the topsoil together and prevent chunks of soil from blocking the rivers and streams. This helps rainwater to flow continuously and prevent flooding of nearby areas.
Weeping Willows (Salix babylonica) are attractive, ornamental trees that are planted in parks, near rivers and ponds. They can grow up to a height of 50 meters and have a width of 40 feet. Weeping Willows have drooping branches with small narrow leaves.
The Weeping Willow is too large to be planted in a garden. The root system of this tree grows two to three times the diameter of the tree canopy. The extensive root system helps to absorb large volumes of rainwater and prevents flooding.
Weeping Willows should be planted in wet soil areas and away from buildings. The roots of the Weeping Willows penetrate deep into the soil and have an extensive growth. The extensive root system of these trees can cause buildings to crack and block underground pipes.
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer. These trees can grow up to a height of 80 feet and have a diameter of 30 feet. It grows well in moist, well-drained soils and dry soils. They are seen growing at the edge of water bodies with their roots partially submerged in water. Their root system can absorb large volumes of water during rainfall and prevent flooding.
Bald Cypress trees growing in swamps have unique projections near their base called “cypress knees.” The “cypress knees” supports the Bald Cypress tree and roots the tree firmly to the ground.
The Bald Cypress trees are known to survive strong winds and hurricanes. Their extensive root system prevents soil erosion and slows down the speed of rapidly flowing water.
River Birch Tree
The River Birch Tree (Betula nigra) also known as red birch, black birch or water birch grows in thickets on the river and lake shores. It also grows well in flood plains and sandy areas. The
The River Birch is a deciduous tree that has a height range of 50 feet to 90 feet. This tree grows well in moist soils and can tolerate extremely wet soil conditions. River Birch trees help to control soil erosion and to reclaim areas with soil that are highly acidic.
The roots of the Birch Tree rapidly grow and branch out seeking sources of water. The extensive root networking of the Birch Trees helps to prevent soil erosion and prevent flooding of nearby areas. The River Birch Trees should not be planted near buildings, water or drainage pipes because the growth of the strong roots will penetrate, weaken and break these structures.
Box Elder Tree
The Box Elder Tree (Acer negundo) is species that is native to North America. Box Elder is also known as Boxelder Maple or Maple Ash. The Box Elder tree grows up to 33 – 82 feet tall and has a trunk diameter of 12 – 20 inches. These trees usually have several trunks and form dense thickets.
The Box Elder trees grow well in flood plains and in areas where there is plenty of water supply. These trees grow well in “riparian habitats”. Riparian habitats are plant habitats found along river margins and river banks. The Box Elder trees found near rivers and streams help in controlling floods by absorbing the excess runoff rainwater and prevents the nearby areas from flooding.
More Trees That Help To Prevent Flooding
Cherry bark oak
Swamp Chestnut Oak