We studied the vegetation and soil properties of a dry forest that had once been disturbed in central Myanmar using 30 quadrats (20 × 20 m) established in 2012. For 30 species, the overall density was 706 individuals ha−1, and the basal area was 2.92 m2 ha−1. The forest was a mosaic of six community types, each of which was dominated by a single species. Dominant species that were capable of resprouting accounted for 47–78% of the total density and 56–83% of the basal area of the communities. We related seven soil properties to the vegetation patterns using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA). The CCA results highlighted remarkable associations of species such as Acacia catechu, Dalbergia paniculata, Terminalia oliveri and Millettia multiflora with soil texture. Acacia inopinata was associated with a high soil pH (i.e. 9–10), and Terminalia tomentosa was associated with soil hardness. Our results indicate that secondary succession of a dry forest is not initially led by pioneer species, but instead, by superior competitors capable of resprouting, and that species distributions are primarily determined by the filtering effects of edaphic conditions. We believe that the dry-forest species retain their soil–species relationships despite heavy disturbances.