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Wounded Tree

The wounded tree that stands at the end of Bayou St. John is even more wounded now.


What happened here? Bark is scattered all around the base of the tree. The biggest shards are immediately evident, but smaller pieces make a complete circle.

For as long as I can remember, the side of this tree that faces the bayou has looked as if a big section was sheared off many years ago, but it seemed to thrive nonetheless. Now, it looks like whatever happened so many years ago has happened again, but I’ll be damned if I can figure what it is. Lightning would be my first suspect, except I’d have thought lightning would char the wood. I don’t see any evidence of carbonization. So then I thought maybe a truck hit it. Trucks don’t normally drive there, but Bayou Boogalooo did take place recently. However, the damage doesn’t seem consistent with that either. The sheared part goes straight into the ground. I don’t think a truck would strike so low.

It makes me very sad to see this. I like trees in general but this one is very special to me and my family. This is where my daughter got her name. I try to stop by there whenever my routine allows and spend a quiet moment. I often do a brief Wind Horse meditation I learned at the Contemplative Academy last year. Sometimes I just look at the tree and admire its beauty and enjoy its shade.

I saw the damage Friday. It must have happened recently. I called Parks & Parkways. I called Parkway Partners. I exchanged messages with the guy who runs the Dying Oaks blog. I’m not sure what more I can or should do.

Amazingly, just as I’m typing the above words, my phone rings. It’s a guy named Troy from the New Orleans Levee Board — calling back about the tree. I didn’t know the Levee Board was responsible for the bayou. Anyhow he is planning to take a look this afternoon and make a determination on the overall health of the tree. Parks & Parkways must have passed my contact information on to him.

I hope this tree is around with us for a long time.

Published inEcologyPix


  1. David David

    I’ve seen multiple results of lightening strikes on trees, and they didn’t burn the tree. This looks like it could be a lightening strike; the only thing odd about it is the width of the mark.

  2. Brenda Helverson Brenda Helverson

    I think that David is right. As I understand it, the lightning-induced current tends to flow through the sap and heats it up, sometimes causing the outer part of the tree to explode. Maybe that is what happened here.

  3. Guess I’m not the first to log in here and second the lightning-strike theory. A couple of years ago an enormous evergreen in our across-the-street neighbor’s yard was struck by lightning. It blew off bark in every direction — I believe I recall some of it in our yard more than 100 feet away, and some on his roof. But there were no char marks at all, just bare wood. The tree had to be taken down. Hope that’s not the case here.

  4. Thanx everyone. Troy called me back after his inspection and confirmed it was lightning. But he thinks the prognosis for the tree is good.

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