Metal concentration of plants growing on contaminated soils among other factors may depend on changes in the hydrological regime of the soil. Foliar and stem metal concentrations in Salix cinerea (grey sallow) were measured in 2 consecutive growing seasons on a submerged sediment-derived soil that underwent gradual terrestrialisation. Foliar and stem cutting concentrations for Cd, Zn and Mn increased on plots that were submerged during the first year, but emerged in the second year of monitoring. The litter layer was sampled under the shrubs of a plot with a recent abrupt change in hydrological regime and on the reference plot. It was separated in three size fractions through sieving. Analysis of the litter fractions suggested that Cd and Zn concentrations remained constant during fragmentation. However, Cr, Cu, Ni and Pb concentrations increased, which was attributed to adhesion of mineral soil particles on the fine fraction. After correction for the metal content in the mineral fraction, an increase in Cd, Mn and Cu concentration during fragmentation of the organic part of the litter layer was observed for the polluted plot. Net litter layer decomposition rate was low, which may indicate low colonisation by the decomposing community. Terrestrialisation resulted in higher Cd, Mn and Zn uptake by willows. The deviant litter layer metal concentrations for Cd, Zn and Mn and low decomposition rate must be further monitored. Feasibility of measures aiming at re-establishing wetland conditions for the dredged sediment landfill must be considered. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.