Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Old Maple Seed Pod Is Still Spectacular

I've clowned around with a Maple seed "helicopter" stuck on my nose, have you?

Well, look who is wearing one now! 
Maple seedling with its seed's samara
This tiny maple tree seedling wears its old seed pod, or samara, (maple seed's helicopter) very well.
When I saw this maple seedling spotlighted by the spring sun's rays, I began to think all kinds of thoughts about spring.
Maple seedling with its old seed pod
   When I see signs of spring, I think about how the tilt of the earth on its axis causes the change of seasons. The change in orientation of the earth's axis changes the amount and angle of the sunlight reaching our part of the earth.  This changing photoperiodic stimuli, and other factors, "turn on"  the chemical signals that initiate germination in the long dormant seeds as well as the other new life that is springing forth.
 The maple seedling wearing its funny hat made me think of other things...
  • I thought about seed dispersal... how, last year, the samara fluttered here from the woods across the yard.
  • I also thought about the maple tree's pollination that happened last spring and very soon will happen again.
  • I also thought about photosynthesis and other processes that are happening in the little seedling.
   One of the processes happening in that seedling's leaves is the production of ATP.  Here is a link to a good animation of ATP synthase (basically a micro electric motor) in action.
   Now, this maple seedling may look like it is clowning around.... that "helicopter" may look a bit like a dunce cap... but, if you ask me, the seedling can wear its "hat" with a spectacular flair... and that is how to wear a samara!


  1. Spring seems to be farther along where you are. Love those photos.

    1. Sybil,
      Thanks! I enjoyed taking the photos.
      Spring seems well ahead of schedule around here. We are enjoying it anyway.