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RoyalRobert

Lightning Strike Nearby

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RoyalRobert

One of our 40 foot tall Royal Palms is growing near a street light.  About three weeks ago the light was hit by storm lightning, no longer worked and was replaced. Because of the closeness of the Royal Palm it also sustained some damage.  Because of the intensity of the heat, the fronds on the side closest to the light are now drooping and dying.  The new growth at the top appears to have been damaged as well.  Fronds on the other side are fine.  Is it possible that the Royal Palm will recover?  Would the application of any fertilizer help the tree?

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Johnny Palmseed

It’s kind of 50:50. Since there is no way for you to know the strength of the lightning, there is no way to predict what the outcome will be. I have seen a neighbors queen palm get hit and survive a few years only to get hit again and catch fire. I saw it get hit the second time and it was a weak bolt but it did not survive. It really didn’t look very good after the first strike but it was alive. There were 3 Washingtonias at a different neighbor next door and the middle one got hit by a very strong bolt. I was in my house and it was very loud. It looked like the palm exploded in a line down the trunk. It was dropping all of its leaves within a day and the other 2 had damage similar to what you described. The 2 recovered but were not as robust and they eventually just removed all 3. My thought is leave it alone and give it some time. It will survive on its own if it can but it might be forever weakened and susceptible to insects, disease,etc. I don’t think fertilizer will make the difference because the tree is damaged due to the lighting, not nutritionally deficient. I have 2 large Royals and I know that they are potential lightning rods. Luckily, one sends down many seeds and they grow pretty fast. So if I lose one or both, I will have a supply of replacements.

34B23AB6-45AA-4192-AE0D-A040BEC48B79.jpeg

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NickJames

It could go either way.

Growing up, one of our queen palms (ironically, the newest/shortest one) was hit by lightning and it immediately fell to the ground, leaving only a six inch tall stump.

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redant

I'm going to bet it's a goner, Royals frequently succumb to lightning strikes. 

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DoomsDave

@RoyalRobert! Welcome to Palm Talk.

Sorry to hear of your palm's situation.

I hate like heck to say this, but I think you should dry tears, fire up the chainsaw and cut the palm down.

The huge problem is that the lightning strike might have permanently damaged the palm's vital structural integrity. The heat might have cooked the inside; if one half is dead, the other half surviving won't be enough. Royals can take high winds, but they need to be intact. You don't want to find out later that the palm was more damaged than you thought.

As massive and heavy as they are, royals falling down in the wind can be a really really serious problem. I recently had a structurally compromised palm fall down and cause a lot of damage.

There are many replacements, and if you want to consider alternatives, all us here will be happy to help.

Welcome again!

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DoomsDave

Here’s a picture of my structurally compromised palm after it severely compromised much else around it.

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7B684F69-736B-43A2-877A-AA2DD5DEC2C1.thumb.jpeg.2e1f12ad54322c3c9a3c8b0c1dcf4a9d.jpeg

097E7E73-7513-43D7-B4BC-4C980E48E05C.thumb.jpeg.82ddfc9566032683bb22d8f0d9b3352a.jpeg

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