In the Directed Steiner Tree (DST) problem the input is a directed edge-weighted graph G = (V,E), a root vertex r and a set S ⊆ V of k terminals. The goal is to find a min-cost subgraph that connects r to each of the terminals. DST admits an O(log² k/log log k)-approximation in quasi-polynomial time [Grandoni et al., 2022; Rohan Ghuge and Viswanath Nagarajan, 2022], and an O(k^{ε})-approximation for any fixed ε > 0 in polynomial-time [Alexander Zelikovsky, 1997; Moses Charikar et al., 1999]. Resolving the existence of a polynomial-time poly-logarithmic approximation is a major open problem in approximation algorithms. In a recent work, Friggstad and Mousavi [Zachary Friggstad and Ramin Mousavi, 2023] obtained a simple and elegant polynomial-time O(log k)-approximation for DST in planar digraphs via Thorup’s shortest path separator theorem [Thorup, 2004]. We build on their work and obtain several new results on DST and related problems.

- We develop a tree embedding technique for rooted problems in planar digraphs via an interpretation of the recursion in [Zachary Friggstad and Ramin Mousavi, 2023]. Using this we obtain polynomial-time poly-logarithmic approximations for Group Steiner Tree [Naveen Garg et al., 2000], Covering Steiner Tree [Goran Konjevod et al., 2002] and the Polymatroid Steiner Tree [Gruia Călinescu and Alexander Zelikovsky, 2005] problems in planar digraphs. All these problems are hard to approximate to within a factor of Ω(log² n/log log n) even in trees [Eran Halperin and Robert Krauthgamer, 2003; Grandoni et al., 2022].

- We prove that the natural cut-based LP relaxation for DST has an integrality gap of O(log² k) in planar digraphs. This is in contrast to general graphs where the integrality gap of this LP is known to be Ω(√k) [Leonid Zosin and Samir Khuller, 2002] and Ω(n^{δ}) for some fixed δ > 0 [Shi Li and Bundit Laekhanukit, 2022].

- We combine the preceding results with density based arguments to obtain poly-logarithmic approximations for the multi-rooted versions of the problems in planar digraphs. For DST our result improves the O(R + log k) approximation of [Zachary Friggstad and Ramin Mousavi, 2023] when R = ω(log² k).