Lichtenberg figures may also appear on the skin of lightning strike victims. These are reddish, fernlike patterns that may persist for hours or days. They are also a useful indicator for medical examiners when determining the cause of death. Lichtenberg figures appearing on people are sometimes called lightning flowers, and they are thought to be caused by the rupture of capillaries under the skin due to the passage of the lightning current or the shock wave from the lightning discharge as it flashes over the skin.
A lightning strike can also create a large Lichtenberg figure in grass surrounding the point struck. These are sometimes found on golf courses or in grassy meadows. Branching root-shaped “fulgurite” mineral deposits may also be created as sand and soil is fused into glassy tubes by the intense heat of the current.
Electrical treeing often occurs in high-voltage equipment prior to causing complete breakdown. Following these Lichtenberg figures within the insulation during post-mortem investigation of an insulation failure can be useful in finding the cause of breakdown. An experienced high-voltage engineer can see from the direction and the shape of trees and their branches where the primary cause of the breakdown was situated and possibly find the initial cause. Broken-down transformers, high-voltage cables, bushings and other equipment can usefully be investigated in this manner. The insulation is unrolled (in the case of paper insulation) or sliced in thin slices (in the case of solid insulating materials). The results are then sketched or photographed to create a record of the breakdown process.