Extensive efforts have been made in recent years to restore rivers with a view to increasing the ecological value of riparian areas and the surrounding landscape and to improving the protection provided against extreme flooding events. One of the important factors for the successful establishment and survival of tree and shrub species in enlarged river corridors (particularly in lowlands) - and in retention basins - is their capacity to survive in anoxic conditions, i.e. their flooding tolerance. The importance of improving our understanding of flooding tolerance and the associated factors is underlined by the increasing interest shown in these issues by landscape planners and forestry services throughout Europe. Knowledge about the physiological and metabolic response of most Central European tree and shrub species is still incomplete. From a management perspective, there is a high level of interest in exploiting factors that incorporate these physiological and metabolic processes, but in ways that are easy to implement and to evaluate in the field. This paper presents a synthesis of knowledge available on the response of Central European tree and shrub species to flooding and highlights the main biotic and abiotic factors that influence species response. The modelling of the impact of flooding on plant species, the success of restoration projects, the planning of retention basins and even the estimation of the economic repercussions of flooding events on forestry could be improved through better knowledge of the flooding stress response of individual tree and shrub species arising from more systematic investigation. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.