How to identify our most common helicopter seeds

what are helicopter seedss

Let's learn about helicopter seeds

Hello. In this tutorial, we will be learning about some of our flying tree seeds. Or, more  specifically, we will be looking at our helicopter-type flying tree seeds. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Which trees do helicopter seeds come from?

There are a variety of trees with samaras, but here in British Isles, we have three main helicopter-producing trees. These are field maple, Norway maple and sycamore. They might look the same, but identifying them is really easy. Here is how to tell them apart:

field maple seeds

Field maple seeds

Field maple seeds have the greatest angle of the three and grow almost horizontally away from each other. Each seed is curved in an upward scoop from the bottom.

identifying helicopter seeds - norway maple seed

Norway maple seeds

Norway maple seeds also grow far apart from each other, but at a closer angle than field maple seeds. Each seed is broad at the tip and has a wavy appearance to its edges.

identifying sycamore seeds, what are helicopter seeds

Sycamore seeds

Compared to field maple and Norway maple, sycamore seeds are smaller and they grow much closer together. Each seed is rounded at the tip and curves outwards at the bottom.

What are helicopter seeds?

Have you ever asked yourself, what are helicopter seeds and why do they have wings?

Well, there are two types of flying seed – parachute seeds and winged seeds. Helicopter seeds are winged seeds. Their wings are single, stiff, flat membranes, which are attached to the actual ‘seed’ bit and designed to help the seed catch the wind as it falls from the tree and fly away. Theis helps it move away from its parent tree so it is not competing for food, water and sunlight.

The reason they are called helicopters is because of the way they spin as they fall from the tree. But, they have other names too, including spinning jennies, whirligigs and whirlibirds. But their proper name is a samara.

Have you ever wondered why maple seeds spin as they fall ? You can find out here x


Well… there we go! A brief introduction to helicopter seeds and how to identify our three most common bi-wing samaras. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial? Let me know in the comments. Happy nature walking and see you soon!

P.S. If you enjoyed this tutorial, don’t forget to subscribe below x

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P.S. Looking for field guides? Check these out.

Disclaimer: Please note, these guides are affiliate links, so I may recieve a small commission if you choose to purchase any item. This will not affect the price you pay, but it will help me keep this site going x

My Nature Nook

Hello, I’m Leila! Welcome to My Nature Nook. I help women find peace and inspiration through mindful connection to Nature. Learn more

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