Lightning Damage to Landscape Palms
Palm trees on the beach of Seahorse Key near Cedar Key, Florida. Photo Credits: UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones
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palm droopy leaves
sap from palms
palms vertical cracks

How to Cite

Brown, Stephen, Douglas Caldwell, and Ralph Mitchell. 2021. “Lightning Damage to Landscape Palms”. EDIS 2021 (1).


Florida is considered by some to be the lightning capital of the world. Florida has on average 3,500 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per day and 1.2 million strikes per year. Given so many strikes, the probability of damage to certain palms is significant. Coconut palms, royal palms, and Washington palms are particularly vulnerable due to their great heights, but other tall palms may be equally susceptible. This new 6-page publication of the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department describes and includes many helpful photos of symptoms of lightning damage as well as lightning protection systems. Written by Stephen H. Brown, Douglas Caldwell, and Ralph Mitchell. This article was updated 1/11/2021 to correct the identification of the palm in Figure 17 to "yellow latania palm."
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Broschat, T. K. 2014. Physiological Disorders of Landscape Palms. ENH1011. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Clatterbuck, W. K., D. S. Vandergriff, and K. D. Coder. "Understanding Lightning & Associated Tree Damage." College Station, TX: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Donegan, B. 2016. "The Most Lightning-Prone Cities in the U.S."

Nelson, S. C. 2008. Lightning Injury to Plants. PD-40. Manoa, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service.

Smiley, E. T. n. D "Lightning Protection for Trees." Charlotte, NC: Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories.

Zona, S. 2008. "When Lightning Strikes." In Growing Palms: Horticultural and Practical Advice for the Enthusiast, edited by R. J. Moore. Palms 52 (2): 57-62.

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