What is the first thing you think of when you see all these seeds on a maple tree?
If you answered “there are many tree weedlings in your future”, you may be a bit of a pessimist, or a perhaps a realist.
If you answered “those samaras are so interesting, I just love to see them twirl as the fly off in the wind”, you may be a bit of an optimist or perhaps are choosing to ignore all the tree weedlings in someone’s future.
Regardless of your first thought, I’m sure your second thought was to wonder why the botanists moved the maple trees from their own family, Aceraceae, to the plant family Sapindaceae, which you never heard of until you looked it up.
The Sapindaceae family, commonly called the Soapberry family, also includes horse chestnuts, the most common of which is the buckeye tree, Aesculus glabra, the state tree of our neighbors to the east in Ohio. In fact, we call people from Ohio “buckeyes”.
In case you are wondering, the state tree of Indiana is the tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, which is in the Magnolia family, Magnoliaceae. However, we do not call people from Indiana “tulips”. We call them “hoosiers” which has nothing to do with trees at all.
Getting back on track… the maple seeds above are on a red maple, Acer rubrum, in my backyard and someday I’m sure I’ll be pulling up a lot of tree weedlings. In the meantime, I hope to never lose the fascination of seeing those seeds twirl to the ground or the interest in plant names, families, and relationships.