University of Florida

Lightning Damage to Trees

Florida is known as the "lightning capital" of the U.S., with Central Florida experiencing the most—hundreds of strikes monthly during the rainy season.

If lightning strikes your tree, it may show obvious damage, or it might be hidden. Tall trees are the most susceptible to lightning strikes. As lightning travels through a tree, it causes sap to boil and cells to explode. The damage often appears as a line of discolored bark or loose bark that hangs from the trunk or branches. Root damage is also possible but is more difficult to recognize.

If you suspect lightning damage on one of your trees, try to minimize future stress to the tree. Depending on the extent of the damage, the tree may die suddenly or slowly, or it may recover on its own. Keeping the soil moist will help promote growth, and hopefully help the tree recover. You might want to consult a professional arborist.


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