We have one maple tree in our front yard — just one — but you’d guess there are a lot more, based on the insane amount of ‘helicopters’ that have been falling throughout our yard this spring.

I raked up all these helicopters, but our yard is STILL full of them! (CSJ/TSM-Rochester)

Ever since I was a kid, we’ve always called those seedy things maples trees produce each year ‘helicopters,’ seeing as they spiral to the ground in a motion similar to that of helicopter blades.

I did some checking, however, and found out those things we call ‘helicopters’ are actually referred to as a double-samara. This article explains more about maple trees, their distinctive helicopter-like double-samaras, and why there seem to be so many this year.

According to the article, “an over-abundance of helicopters indicates the tree experienced stress the previous year. Producing a bumper crop of seeds is the tree’s way of carrying on the species, should the stress continue and the tree die off.”

But I'm not sure about that explanation being the cause of all those helicopters this year. I don't recall last winter (or, even the winter before that) as being overly cold, or stress-inducing.

But we sure have a ton of helicopters to clean up this year, as our maple tree attempts to keep itself, and subsequent maple trees, alive. Interesting. But still not a big help when it comes to keeping your driveway, sidewalk and gutters cleaned out.

Have your maple trees produced a lot of helicopters so far this year?

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