Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Bark and Trunk Concerns

Q: 100-ft tall oak was hit by lightning and is missing bark on a section 20' long and 5' wide.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015  

Q: I have an oak tree, over 100 feet tall, that was hit by lightning. The tree is intact as far as I can tell, but the bark is missing on a section about 20 feet long and 5 inches wide, at most. This is a recent hit, so the leaves look fine. I can not fall the tree easily because of its location on my property and proximity to my neighbor's property. There is no sign of burning, and the wound looks like someone peeled the bark off.

A: Lightning strikes can be very unpredictable. Some key potential concerns would be whether the path of the strike killed a wide area of bark and whether a portion of the crown suddenly died back. I would suggest having an arborist examine the tree to determine what, if any, remedial treatments may be needed. After that, you should have the tree examined periodically, or right away if there is any die back in the crown or if the path of the strike does not compartmentalize properly (this will take a while).

 

Responder: Mike Galvin, RCA #432, Annapolis, MD