As arborists can tell you, trees are the most common victims of lightning strikes. Most lightning bolts pass through trees on the way to the ground. This is because trees contain a lot of water and water is a better electrical conductor than air. The tree trunk in particular contains a high concentration of water near the cambium, or just under the bark.
As the electricity from the lightning surges through the water in the tree trunk, it causes it to boil explosively, blasting off the bark, and sometimes throwing pieces over a hundred feet.
Although a typical lightning bolt contains 250 kilowatt hours of electricity, it is the duration of the lightning bolt that determines how destructive it will be.
“Cold” bolts are characterized by high electrical current and extremely short duration. One of these penetrating to the heart of a tree can convert it to kindling instantaneously.
“Hot” bolts are of lower electrical current but slightly longer duration. They are likely to set things on fire. In fact, this is the source of approximately 7,500 forest fires in the US each year.
Fortunately, in much of the US, thunderstorms are usually accompanied by heavy rains that quench any fire that breaks out. However, many historic shade trees are destroyed by lightning. Often, the tree will not be killed instantly, but the open wound created by the lightning strike is an invitation to insects and fungi which can ultimately cause its death.
The best way to protect trees from a similar fate is to have lightning rods installed. The lightning rod is a simple device and is as effective at protecting trees as it is at protecting other structures such as barns.
The metal of the lightning rod provides an even better conductor than the moisture in the trunk, so the lightning bolt is guided down to earth without injuring the tree. While it may be impractical to install a rod in every tree on your landscape, you may narrow down the list of trees which must be protected from lightning by considering these factors:
Call today for a complimentary consultation from our fully trained and certified arborists. Click here to contact the office nearest you.
As homes and buildings are equally at risk, our partner, Independent Protection Company (IPC), can design a lightning protection system tailored to the specifications of your house. IPC is a highly renowned manufacturer and designer of lightning protection equipment.
Chestnut Ridge, NY
Oak Park, IL
Andra S., Horticulturalist
Bryn Mawr, PA
April and Jim B.
Edina Country Club
Chester County Resident
Mortgage Professionals, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD
New Rochelle, NY
Gail S., Director
Historical Society of Princeton
Old Lyme, CT
J. Todd Lamm
NJ Tree Expert
Jeffrey H., Vassar College
Jerry and Sue F.
Pleasantville Country Club Corporation, Inc.
John K., Southbury, CT
West Hartford, CT
Kathleen G. Gallagher, Executive Director
The Charles Ives Center for the Arts
Briarcliff Manor, NY
Kimberly and Bruce W.
Cape Cod, MA
Kristin C., CPO
Evergreen Woods North
Asbury Park, NJ
Hyannis Port, MA
Dix Hills, NY
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Cortlandt Manor, NY
Great Neck, NY
Timothy J. Strano
Concord Country Club
Historic Hudson Valley, NY
Show me landscape content specific to my geography
Use Your Zipcode