Lightening strikes will vary in intensity and damage. This will range from some minor bark splintering along the trunk or branch that was struck to the tree splitting in half with bark blown 150 feet in all directions. Lightening can do tremendous internal damage even if exterior damage appears minor.
If your tree is hit by lightening, make sure the tree is stable and won’t break apart. Safety should always be the first priority. Wait several weeks to see if the tree survives as you don’t know how extensively the vascular system and roots have been damaged. Lastly, supplemental watering and fertilizing to keep additional stresses away from the tree, are the best initial procedures to follow. If you have any questions please give our staff a call.
If a tree is highly valuable and at higher risk for being struck a lightning protection system may be an option for you. This involves installing cables in the tree that will direct the energy from the canopy into the ground below the tree. The cables run along the length of the trunk and are visible from the ground up and can be costly to install; a few things to consider when weighing your decision.
For a pdf coopy of this factsheet: Trees and Lightning