Pest of the Month June 2011 – Lightning Injury to Plants

  • Affects:  Any plant, particularly tall-standing, erect plants (like trees and palms)
  • Symptoms include:  rapid wilting or collapse of plants or stems in combination with structural damage or carbonization (burning) of the internal stem tissues, premature mass dropping of green fruit, burns or strange scars on plants or organs, roots appear blackened or cooked, interior plant tissue blown out of the stem.  Symptoms develop rapidly and coincide with recent thunderstorms.
  • Damage caused by: heat and shock waves
  • Symptoms can mimic other diseases and disorders

Source: Lightning Injury to Plants, Scot C. Nelson, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Cooperative Extension Service Plant Disease PD-40, July 2008.

Lightning injury – coconut palms. Photo by Dr. Scot Nelson, UH CTAHR