If you have a maple tree in your yard, or near your yard, you’ve probably noticed that the whirlybirds are back. Depending on the size and proximity of the maple tree, whirlybirds, also known as helicopters, can blanket your yard, driveway and sidewalks, and deck and patio areas.
Their real name is samara, and they contain seeds from the trees. They are most common on Maple trees, with silver maples being the biggest offender. Samara take flight as they fall from the trees, thanks to their lightweight tails that allow them to spin as they fall.
Their aerodynamic tails also help them to plant themselves. The heavier seed end lands face down and when stepped on, the tail will break off and the seed will plant itself. Don’t be surprised to see seedlings trees popping up in your yard, gardens and sidewalk cracks.
Short of cutting down the tree, there isn’t much you can do to eliminate the fall of the helicopters in the spring. Sweep them up from the driveway, sidewalks and patio areas. If they call in a planting zone such as your yard or gardens, use a rake to get as many as you can. Regular mowing and lawn maintenance will help, and you call always pull seedlings from the ground.
On the bright side, you will enjoy several weeds of shade this summer from the tree the helicopters fell from, until autumn when the leaves fall and the clean-up begins again!