Airborne seed dispersal is an efficient way to get the next generation off to a good start far from the original. Considering an acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, that’s quite a feat for a stationary plant (acorns may be carried miles from the mother tree by birds, such as bluejays, but that’s another story). In both photos above and below groundsel tree (a shrub) lets loose its seeds via the wind.

A puff of wind is all you need to get the process started. If the wind is strong and steady enough the seed may travel great distances to settle in some low lying, moist area to propagate and start a new colony. You can see this plant alongside highways in roadside ditches and sloughs throughout the state.

The groundsel tree is also called sea-myrtle, consumptionweed, eastern Baccharis or just plain groundsel. It’s cottony seeds can be seen now in our wetlands, and of course, everywhere else the plant grows.

Groundsel tree.

Another tree which sends off its seeds by the wind is maple. The maple displayed here is a non-native species. It’s Amur maple. This particular Amur maple tree grows by itself alongside our wetland. It was probably planted here by power of the wind, its seeds sailing in on some powerful gust from a nearby planting of the tree. It would take more than a mere puff of wind to carry maple seeds any distance.

Amur maple seeds ready to launch.

Where does the name Amur maple come from. The tree is native to East Asia, more specifically the area of China and Mongolia surrounding the Amur River Valley. The tree is also found in Korea and Japan. It’s been cultivated here as an ornamental due to its flaming red fall color.

Waiting to “helicopter” to the ground.

Most of the bald cypress trees here at the museum have already dropped their foliage. The one pictured below is ready to do the same. But before it does, we get to experience the tree’s bright orange fall color against a brilliant, severe clear blue sky.

Bald cypress (left) and groundsel tree (bottom right).

What more could you ask for?

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