maple keys

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There are no more maple flowers to be found on the Norway maples around our house. At the beginning of the month, I noticed that as the leaves were starting to grow, the flowers were dropping and turning into the little winged helicopter keys we associate with maples. Now, in the middle of May, there are only maple keys hiding under the large canopy of leaves.


They look almost like bats all huddled together, hanging from a green ceiling. Last week, the ones on the lowest branches looked like they were ready to fly.


And once the rain began, fly they did.


Straight down.

So what are these keys? My guide to all things tree, What Tree is It?, referred to the keys when distinguishing maples according to their fruit. So, that means that the keys are the fruit of the tree. Wait a minute. Apparently you don't have to be a fruit tree to make fruit! By watching the trees, I've come to realize that all trees make flowers (even if some of them do look like koosh balls) and now it seems that all trees make fruit. What sort of fruit is this though? It's clearly not the kind of fruit you can pick and eat. I think it's more of a "be fruitful and multiply" type of fruit, as in it's all about reproduction. As far as I understand it, the female part of the flower, once pollinated, turns into the fruit, which holds the seed. So does that mean that pollination is all done here? Are these seeds all set to make new maple trees? Already? In May? A mere month after the flowers even appeared? That seems fast to me. Hmmmm....

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