Samara (fruit)

vine maple (Acer circinatum)
samara of Combretum zeyheri

A samara is a winged achene, a type of fruit in which a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue develops from the ovary wall. A samara is a simple dry fruit and indehiscent (not opening along a seam). The shape of a samara enables the wind to carry the seed farther away than regular seeds from the parent tree:[1]

A samara is sometimes called a key and is often referred to as a wingnut, helicopter or whirlybird, whirligig, polynose, or, in the north of England, a spinning jenny.[3] During the autumn months, they are a popular source of amusement for children who enjoy tossing them in the air and watching them spin to the ground.

Some species that normally produce paired samaras, such as Acer pseudoplatanus, also produce them in groups of 3 or 4.[4]


  1. Fergus, Charles (2002-01-01). Trees of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811720922.
  2. Alexander, David E.; Vogel, Steven (2004-10-13). Nature's Flyers: Birds, Insects, and the Biomechanics of Flight. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801880599.
  3. "Seed dispersal by wind: Gone with the wind - Woodland Trust". Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  4. Niklas, Karl J. (1992-08-01). Plant Biomechanics: An Engineering Approach to Plant Form and Function. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226586304.

Further reading

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