Prepare for the onslaught!

It's the time of the year when some of the trees in my yard unleash their attack. I'm talking about Silver Maples, and their fascinating but frustrating (for a gardener) seeds more commonly known as "helicopters".

This year the tree seems to have decided that it doesn't need as many leaves, and has used the energy it saved by not creating them to instead produce extra helicopters.

Lots and lots of extra helicopters.

That is a serious amount of seeds. Three years ago we had a late hard freeze in April and it killed most leaves and seeds -- there were no helicopters (or acorns) that year. I believe the trees have been making up for that and producing heavily since.

I've already written about the dozens of maple saplings I've discovered and pulled out of beds as I cleaned things up this Spring. That's on top of the dozens upon dozens that I pulled out last Summer and Fall as I found them. Imagine what it's going to look like this year?

Some people say that Silver Maples are "junk" trees for this reason (and also because they have a tendency to split once they get large). Is that so? Find me large deciduous trees that do not drop something or have some other shortcoming.

Locust trees have these nice-smelling white flowers in the Spring, but they quickly fall, clog the gutters, and start to rot.

What about Oaks? Acorns, sometimes as large as golfballs. Sweetgum? Nice form, great fall color, but they drop spikey seed balls we call "gumballs". Is there a tree around here that isn't a problem in some way? I think that most trees have some shortcomings. They produce pollen, they drop "stuff", they grow too big, they push up sidewalks, etc. I say that's just part of having trees in residential areas. Small trees are not so much a problem:

Yes, they drop "stuff", but it's on a manageable scale, so we don't complain as much.

But really, it's the large trees that really leave an impression. People like big trees. They just forget that trees are plants, and plants are sometimes messy. Big plants make big messes, right?

Sure I'll be picking hundreds of helicopters out of my planting beds for the next week or so, and over the next year I'll be pulling dozens and dozens of maple seedlings out of the ground, but I think it's worth it. I'll gladly trade a little bit of extra work in the garden for the benefit of having the large trees around. Wouldn't you?

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Anonymous –   – (April 22, 2010 at 1:11 PM)  

I loved playing with the helicopters as a kid. I used to "fly" them around pretending they were racing space ships haha.

Neat blog, Alan, i'll be watching it!

Anonymous –   – (April 22, 2010 at 1:17 PM)  

Also, this reminds me of the persimmon tree in our backyard. It would drop masses of those annoying flowers on the deck every year, but produced very few persimmons. My parents always wished it had producer more, I think my dad would have tried using them in cooking.

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