A century ago the Missouri bootheel was a vast 2.5 million acre bottomland hardwood forest. Today, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge has the the largest remaining tract in the bootheel with 15,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods.
Cherrybark oak, swamp white oak, swamp chestnut oak, Shumard oak, pin oak, willow oak, overcup oak, shagbark hickory, and water hickory are important food and cover sources for many wildlife like deer, waterfowl, squirrels, turkeys, fox, and bear. These trees are commonly found on the refuge in the bottomland hardwoods and tolerate short term flooding during the dormant season. Bottomland hardwood forests are one of the lowest and wettest types of hardwood forests and acts as a transition between the drier upland hardwood forest and wet floodplains and forested wetlands.