Trees and Lightning: What a Shock!

Few things occur in the landscape more dramatic or “story worthy” than having a tree struck by lightning.  In fact, we are lucky enough to live in the part of the country that receives the most lightning action.  On average, South Carolina receives 10 – 21 strikes per square mile per year.  Many of these strikes directly involve trees.

Lightning generally damages a tree in three ways.  First is the damage caused by the shock wave of the lightning actually passing through or along the tree.  This is what causes, for example, parts of the tree to be blown into the neighbor’s yard or across the street.  Second is the damage caused by the actual heating from the strike.  Tree cells are damaged or destroyed by the heat generated from the lightning.  Third, and often forgotten, is the tree’s susceptibility to insect invasion.  Oaks and pines are particularly prone to bark boring beetles that could further damage or kill your trees.

All is not lost, though…  The key to recovery from lightning damage is quick and immediate attention.  Often, a simple regimen of increased irrigation and addressing nutrient deficiencies can greatly increase a tree’s chances for survival.  A qualified arborist will be able to assess the damage to a lightning struck tree and make appropriate recommendations.  It just so happens that I know how to put you in touch with one here.

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