My Tree Was Struck by Lightning: Now What?

There’s no question that lightning strikes can be a threat to large trees. Each year, thousands of trees are struck by lightning. This isn’t entirely surprising as lightning tends to strike the tallest object in a given area—and often, that’s a tree.

But what should you do if you have a tree hit by lightning? 


In this article, we’ll talk about the next steps to take following a lightning-damaged tree. We’ll also answer a common question we get asked, which is: Can a tree survive a lightning strike?

We love trees as much as you do, but we also never want trees to pose a potential risk to homeowners. At the end of the day, we want to help ensure that we’re setting you up for success with helpful advice.

My Tree Was Struck by Lightning: What Do I Do?

One of the difficult things about lightning damage to a tree is that it can sometimes be quite subtle. If the lighting struck the top of the tree and the electricity traveled through it (down to the roots), there could be damage to layers beneath the bark that you can’t actually see. 

tree struck by lighting

For this reason, a tree hit by lightning could conceivably go on to look normal for days, weeks, or potentially even months or years (depending on the severity of the internal damage). Subtle signs of an internal problem might include leaf wilt or sparse growth. 

But often, there are signs that are a bit more obvious.

Some of the signs that a tree was hit by lightning include:

  • Split bark or cracked wood
  • Hanging branches
  • Blackened areas that look burned

Whether you’re certain your tree was struck by lightning (many homeowners see or hear the strike), or you’re just concerned, it’s important to call in a tree care professional for a tree inspection. Any hanging branches should be addressed immediately to prevent them from falling. From there, your tree care professional can determine the next steps based on the evaluation.

Can a Tree Survive a Lightning Strike?

That leads us to the next question, as to whether or not a tree can even survive a lightning strike. 

Many trees do overcome the damage they incur after being struck by lightning. Whether or not it survives depends on a lot of factors such as the health of the tree when it was struck, where it was struck, the severity of the damage, its species, and even its age. 

certified arborist inspecting tree

Any time that a tree is damaged, it does leave it susceptible to more possible problems. The sad truth is that pests are more likely to attack a wounded tree than a healthy one, so this is also an important consideration. It all points to the importance of having a Certified Arborist perform a tree inspection.

Tree with bracing

A Certified Arborist can help you to determine whether you need professional tree removal or if the tree is likely to survive. Tree cabling and bracing can sometimes be performed on damaged trees.

Before the Strike: Tree Lighting Protection 

If you are reading this article because of concerns about the possibility of having a tree hit by lightning, but it hasn’t happened yet, you’ll want to consider tree lightning protection services. This will also be helpful if you’ve had damage to one tree but have other large trees you’re concerned about. 

With tree lightning protection services, a Certified Arborist will inspect your tree and determine if a tree lightning protection system makes sense. 

certified arborist talks with customer about tree

This system will not prevent the likelihood of a tree being struck but instead will direct the electrical charge in a way that can become more safely grounded (while also reducing the chances of injury to people and property nearby).

A lightning protection system should be installed and regularly inspected by a Certified Arborist.

Gaining Peace of Mind about Lightning Damage to a Tree

The idea of lightning damage can be worrisome and even frightening. Whether you have already experienced lightning damage to a tree and you need to know what to do next—or you’re being proactive and looking to prevent potential damage—it makes sense to call in a professional.

A tree company with Certified Arborists on staff will be able to properly assess your tree based on a wealth of knowledge and experience. No matter what situation you’re in, that should help provide peace of mind that you’re getting a solution underway. 

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to worry when you just want to be able to enjoy your property to the fullest. With the right professional on your side, you’ll be able to let go of those worries and get back to enjoying time outside. 

If you’d like to have a tree on your Allentown or Lansdale, PA area property assessed, contact us for a free consultation. Then you can rest assured knowing that we’ve got it completely under control.

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Image Source: lightning struck tree

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