How maple fruits fall | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


How maple fruits fall

A heavy body and big wing help seeds stay airborne

2:24pm, June 11, 2009

View a video of the maple seeds and the mini-vortexes they generate.

A heavy body and lone, stubby wing seem unlikely features for an object trying to fly—but they help the seeds of maple trees travel thousands of meters from a parent tree, researchers report in the June 12 Science.

The helicopter-like seeds—technically fruits called samaras—dangle from trees in pairs. As the seeds age, they separate into single units, each a heavy, round mass at the base of a stubby, asymmetrical wing. This design makes the maple fruits spin as they descend, which generates an upward sucking mini-tornado atop

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content