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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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July 23, 2020

Shocking: Lightning Strikes Your Trees

Lightning strikes have been a major issue in our landscapes especially this summer during storm season. A bolt of lightning contains one million volts of electricity. When a tree is hit, water and sap vaporize. Other times, the tree could have sections of bark or limbs blown off. Damage may not be immediately apparent – the damage and dieback can take months or even years to present signs. A healthy vigorous tree may be able to recover, while a tree that is stressed may not be able to. If the tree takes a glancing blow, it has a chance of survival with a little help.

What to do if lightning strikes your tree:
  • First and foremost – do not approach the tree: there may be downed wires, electrical hazards, or dangerous falling limbs!
  • An arborist should inspect it immediately to check the tree for compromised aspects of the structure.
  • As long as the structure is secure, we recommend waiting at least 4-6 weeks before performing any surgery or corrective pruning.
  • In the meantime, the exposed areas should be treated for insects to keep borers and carpenter ants out.
  • When it’s safe to assume that the tree may live, surgery work should be done to clean out any damaged bark/wood.
  • Any form of lightning strikes will stress the tree, so supplemental watering and fertilizing is important to mitigate stress.
  • Continue to have your Arborist monitor the tree on a yearly basis.

For very tall, important trees in your yard, you should definitely consider installing lightning protection systems (these systems work just as they do on structures).

If you think your tree may have sustained a strike, we would be happy to advise you. Just contact one of our certified arborists!


Lightning stripped the bark from this tree in Creve Coeur

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Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.