What are helicopter seeds?

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what are helicopter seedss

About this tutorial

Helicopter seeds are a commonly found element of many nature walks and can help you identify the trees growing in that location. So, in this tutorial, we will look at what helicopter seeds are and which trees they come from. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

What are helicopter seeds?

Helicopter seeds are a type of flying tree seed. There are actually two types of flying seeds – winged seeds and parachute seeds. Helicopter seeds are winged seeds, and are called helicopters, because they spin through the air as they fall – like helicopter propellers.

What are winged seeds called?

Helicopter seeds are known by several common names, including whirligigs, whirlibirds, spinning jennys and helicopter seeds. But the real name for winged seeds, is a samara.

Which trees have helicopter seeds?

Many trees produce winged seeds, but there are only three helicopter-type seeds you are likely to encounter on your nature walks. They are field maple, Norway maple and sycamore. These can be identified by looking at the size of the seed and the angle between the seeds held together in a pair. Let’s see what they look like…

How to identify field maple seeds

Generally speaking, our helicopter seeds can be identified by looking at the angle between the seeds (they always grow in pairs). Field maple seeds have the greatest angle of the three and grow almost horizontally away from each other, like so…

field maple

How to identify Norway maple seeds

Next up, are Norway maple seeds. These two grow far apart from each other, but at a closer angle than the polarised field maple seeds. Here’s what they look like…

Norway maple

How to identify sycamore seeds

Lastly, we have sycamore seeds. Compared to field maple and Norway maple, sycamore seeds are much smaller and they grow much closer together – as you can see below…


Did you know...

  • Helicopter seeds spin by creating their own little mini-tornado? Its true! You can find out how they do this here.
  • Or, did you know that we actually have eight flying tree seeds! You can meet them all here.
  • Finally, would you like to know why flying seeds, well, fly? You can learn more about that here (post coming soon).


Well, there we go! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and have a better idea now, of what our helicoptery seeds are and which trees they come from. To be notified about new nature walk tutorials, you can join the Nook below x


My Nature Nook

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Hello! Welcome to My Nature Nook. I am so happy to meet you. My name is Leila and I am a Nature awareness coach for busy girls seeking calm and connection through Nature.

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My Nature Nook


I’m Leila. A Nature Awareness coach and mentor based between Ireland and Wales. I help busy girls nurture and nourish deep Nature Connections to re-charge their batteries and enhance their well-being by enjoying the beauty of Nature.

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