Assessing Lightning Damage On Trees

Posted on: 2 March 2021

Lightning strikes on trees are often unavoidable, but the consequences can be devastating. Knowing what to do following a strike is essential.

Common Damage Types

Damage is often immediately visible. The tree may appear scorched, or there may even be flames that must be extinguished immediately following the lightning strike. Sometimes the bark will split open due to the superheating that occurred to the moisture and sap in the trunk. Trunks are also often split, or the bark is completely torn off along one side of the tree. Branches may be torn off or split open, as well.

Sometimes damages aren't immediately obvious. Other than a contact scar or burn where the strike made the first contact with the tree, it will otherwise look fine. A few leaves may be knocked off, but there may be no visible bark or foliar damage beyond this.

Initial Recovery Steps

The best thing to do following a lightning strike is very little. It can take months for the full extent of the damage to become apparent, especially if the tree was hit during the winter dormant season. Do the minimum required to ensure basic tree health — trim out any badly-damaged areas, such as broken or obviously dead branches, by cutting them back to their base. If the bark is split, carefully trim the edges so they are smooth. This helps bark heal much quicker.

It can help to provide the tree with a small amount of tree fertilizer. The nutrients can help the tree heal much quicker. Otherwise, keep a close eye on the tree so you can spot any changes that indicate more severe damages.

Removal Signs

Severe damage should become obvious before the end of the first growing season following the lightning strike. Failure to thrive is common due to internal damages to the tree from the jolt of electricity. It may not leaf out following dormancy, or the leaves may be weak and yellowed. In some cases, the leaves are full at first, but they discolor or simply drop off in the days and weeks following the strike.

Other than obvious signs of failure to thrive, other signs can indicate that the tree is dying, even while it is still leafing out. One sign is if fungus and mushrooms begin to grow on the trunk. Seeping, sappy wounds are another symptom. If any of these problems occur, the tree should be assessed for removal.

Contact a tree removal service if you don't think your lightning-damaged tree can be saved. For more information, visit a website like


identifying issues with your trees

Do you know how to identify a sick or troublesome tree? Are there trees that hang over your home? Do you have trees that aren't quite as beautiful as they once were? I have created my blog to help as many people as possible identify and resolve problems with trees. Whether your tree is sick and needs attention, or if the tree is hanging over your home, causing roofing problems, you can learn a lot about what course of action to take by visiting my blog. Hopefully, you can find all of the information you need to save your trees and know when it is time to take them down.