The grass is growing, the sun is shining and the helicopters are twirling down...on everything! From pools to the gutters, there seems to be more maple helicopters than ever this spring in New York State.

What Are They?

The helicopters that we see falling these days are actually the seeds from maple trees floating to the ground. According to the website, there is a technical name for them as well.

The fruit, commonly known as a helicopter, is actually a winged nutlet called a samara. Samaras are typically 1-2 inches in length and are initially red or green color, maturing into a light brown.

When Will They Stop Falling?

Fine. Now we that we know what the scientist call them, when will we see them stop falling? They are clogging up pool filters and getting on cars and front lawns all over town. The Farmer's Almanac says there is an end in sight for those frustrated by them.

There are a variety of maple trees in New York State and some will unload there helicopters in spring and some in the fall!


The amount of annoying helicopters that we have seen has been the small talk of the town lately. If you are in a line or small group, there is a good chance that you will hear people speaking about the weather and the helicopters! There is a good reason why we are seeing them in extra numbers this year.

It does appear that there is a cycle to the trees. However, the weather or lack of rain can also make a difference in seed production. indicates that:

Seed production occurs every year in varying amounts. However, research on masting indicates the phenomenon appears every 2-5 years. Additionally, a mast year may be stimulated by ideal pollination conditions or environmental cues like moisture and temperature.

Around our yard, I have been using a leaf blower to move the maple helicopters away from the gutters and pool area. We have four kids and hardly a day goes by that we don't see a few make it in to the house either from their shoes tracking them in or intentionally bringing them in to toss around the house. You have to admit, they are fun to see spinning down.

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