Samara (fruit)

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vine maple (Acer circinatum)
samara of Combretum zeyheri

A samara is 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). It is a winged achene. The shape of a samara enables the wind to carry the seed farther away than regular seeds from the parent tree:

A samara is sometimes called a key and is often referred to as a whirlybird, helicopter, whirligig, polynose, or, in the north of England, a spinning jenny. 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 double samaras, such as Acer pseudoplatanus, can also produce a few multi-lobed samaras with 3 or 4 seeds.

Further reading