What Is the Samara Fruit?

Red Maple Fruit Samara

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A samara is often found in large groups on the tree and not all samaras look alike. One familiar type of samara is the double-winged one found on maple trees (Acer spp.). Ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) produce a samara that features a single elongated wing. Elm trees (Ulmus spp.) produce samaras where the seed is located in the middle of a papery circle.

What Is a Samara Fruit?

A samara is a type of dry fruit that has a unique anatomy: The seeds are surrounded by a papery wing that, when the wind blows, carries the seeds farther away than most other fruit seeds. Samaras are considered indehiscent fruits, meaning they don't release their seeds at maturity. Rather, they rely on predators or decomposition to release their seeds. Pumpkins are another example of indehiscent fruits.

Examples of other trees and shrubs that produce samaras:

  • Common hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata)
  • Flabellaria paniculata (a woody African vine)
  • Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
  • Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)