Welcome! In this article, we will learn all about helicopter seeds – what they are and where they come from. We hope you enjoy reading it!
Here is a quick summary of some helicopter seed facts:
Keep reading to learn more …
Winged tree seeds are called samaras and across Britain and northern Europe, there are eight main types. (There are also a few others, but these are smaller.) Together, the big eight are:
The seeds of the ash tree are also known as ash keys. You can spot their bunches dangling from curved, upward arching branches in woodlands and hedgerows. In the spring and summer, they are green and may blend into the leaves. But in autumn and winter, they turn brown and are easily seen.
Field Maple seeds are readily found in parks, fields, hedgerows and woodlands. They are often tinged with pink as they mature, and grow almost horizontally away from each other.
Hornbeam seeds have a very characteristic shape. Notice the three lobes to their wings? While seeds of birch and aspen can also show this three lobed pattern, they are very tiny compared to the size of the hornbeam seed. So if you see a three-lobed helicopter seed, you can be pretty sure it is this.
Linden seeds are also quite different to the other seeds shown here. Their wings are wrapped around their stems, with the seeds themselves held in a little cluster of one to three at the bottom of the stem.
Norway maple has a wing angle in between that of field maple and sycamore, making it easy to distinguish. Although, this may become difficult unless you can find two seeds still stuck together. If you can find its parent tree, the leaves can help to tell them apart.
Sycamore seeds are very easy to find in parks, hedgerows, woodlands and fields. Try to find a pair still joined together. Their seeds are held quite closely together and are much smaller in size than field or Norway maple.
The seeds of the Wych elm are pretty different to the rest of the seeds shown here, and therefore not easy to confuse with the others. They grow and often fall in clusters, with their seeds enveloped in the middle of a thin, round, papery wing.
Because, they are seeds that fly!
They have wings to help them travel, so they can move away from their parent plants and grow into new trees.
Helicopter seeds are known by all sorts of fun names, including:
When producing its seeds, the objective of a tree is to be able to disperse them as far away from itself as possible. This prevents any offspring from competing with it for food, water and light, and in the future, reduces the chances of cross-pollination.
To accomplish this trees have adapted several mechanisms:
Scientists have carried out all sorts of experiments on helicopter seeds to find out why they spin as they fall, and the answer is pretty amazing. Much like a tornado as it whirls and spins, helicopter seeds create their own mini vortex, allowing them to spin gently instead of simply falling to the ground!
There are three tree seeds that most resemble helicopter propellers. They are:
These three seeds are very easy to confuse. But, once you know the difference between them, they are pretty easy to identify.
An easy way to differentiate between these three seeds, is to look at the angle between the seeds’ wings.
Another way to differentiate between these seeds, is to find their parent trees and have a look at their leaves.
Do you think you could identify these seeds if you found them? Remember to use all available clues to help you.
Onto the fun part! How to fly your helicopter seeds!
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I hope you have enjoyed learning about helicopter seeds?
Have fun and see you again soon x
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