Lightning Trees

White Pine

White Pines are often the tallest trees in the forest. Around here you can ID them easily from far away cos they stick up above the rest of the canopy like a lightning rod. Water clings to their needles in a storm and they are often the juiciest, closest path of least electrical resistance to the ground. But they’ve evolved to survive lightning strikes.

The bark of most trees divert rain water down in a cascading way, lots of little splashes from one bark scale to the next. This makes the moisture being pumped up the inside of the tree, just under the bark, the smoothest continuous stream of water and the fastest unbroken route for lightning to take to the ground.

When lightning travels under bark the moisture there heats up hotter than the sun! Sap boils and turns to screaming steam with nowhere to escape so tree bark explodes off the tree from top to bottom like all sides of a banana being peeled at once. Trees don’t usually survive without their bark.

White Pine bark isn’t smooth but it has a vertical maze of cracks that facilitate lightning passage on the outside of the bark, keeping their heartwood safe from explosion and bark safe from banana-peelation.

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