Abstract A model study of canopy flow over tall roughness elements was carried out in a wind tunnel using roughness consisting of pegs 9 cm high and 0.48 cm in diameter, arranged in four geometrical patterns. The mean and fluctuating velocities were measured within and above the roughness elements. Empirical expressions derived from field measurements for mean velocity profiles and fluctuating velocity were used to examine the data obtained in this model study. The logarithmic profile was adapted to analyze the data of mean velocity above the canopy. In this analysis, the friction velocity and the roughness parameter were calculated from the mean velocity profiles and related to the density of roughness elements to show the effects of roughness density on the flow field. Although the coefficient of anisotropy above the canopy in this model study is larger than in the field, the model study produced a turbulent flow field similar to field conditions.