July 14, 2011

Sycamore tree trunk

Shocking evidence

Sycamore tree

Lightning struck campus during the early morning storm on July 11, leaving a lasting impression on one of the trees in "Sycamore Row." The century-old tree is located near the intersection of Sixth Street and University Boulevard, between the CyRide building and the east soccer field. Brad Spainhower, an arborist in facilities planning and management, will keep an eye on the tree's ability to heal and survive, which should be evident in the next year.

"What happens when lightning hits a tree -- besides blowing it to pieces -- is that the heat from the lightning cooks the cambium layer, which transports the water and nutrients throughout the tree," Spainhower said. "The amount of damage a lightning strike causes to this layer depends on how much heat the lightning has generated and the size and species of tree. Some trees will die almost immediately, and some can live for years."

Photos by Sara Jensen.