This Canada Hemlock, like all the tallest trees in Peirce’s Park at Longwood Gardens, had a narrow green wire extending from somewhere in the crown of the tree beyond our sight down the full length of the trunk and into the ground. The wires were inconspicuous unless you were really looking at the trees, like my husband and I were. We wandered around enjoying the towering lindens and tulip-trees and especially the hemlocks. Some of the oldest trees here are thought to be more than 200 years old and were thoughtfully labeled for those of us who are still learning to identify them. 😉
We assume the trees are wired to protect them from lightning, as a strike would be life-threatening for the tree. Trees are often the tallest objects in a landscape and their deep roots and water/sap content make them a great lightning rod. From what I’ve read, properly protecting a tree from lightning can cost as much as $1,000 per tree and involves running copper cables down opposite sides of the trunk as well as along the main branches. These cables are then grounded well outside of the dropline of the tree to prevent root damage.
Lightning is nature’s way of eliminating old or sick trees, but it would be a shame to lose such beauties as those at Longwood. This was the first time either my husband or I had seen such a thing and I wonder how common it may be. Any fellow tree-huggers know more about this?