Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Helicopter seeds: pleasure in simple things

Finding pleasure in simple things is a gift and one often found while observing Nature. The woody pear (Xylomelum cunninghamianum) that grows in the semi-arid region surrounding Mitchell in outback Queensland is a fairly ordinary looking tree yet has seed capsules that have unique charm.

A couple of days ago my two woody pear seed capsules split open to form ' smiling' heads, and then, a day later, they released their seeds.

Each capsule contains two winged seeds and each is a delight. As long as my ring finger and about as wide, each seed looks a bit like a golden tadpole, with its 'head' containing the seed and a 'tail' that gives it the ability to fly down from the treetops.

Last night I had fun holding each seed high in the air then liberating it. After a slight drop, the seed spins and rotates. The shape of the tail, its curve and the weight of the seed allows the spinning rotating action, designed to slow down its fall (from the treetops) which, of course, gives it a greater chance of being picked up by a breeze and dispersed further afield -- away from the parent tree.

Like a miniature helicopter, the woody pear's seed charms me with its simplicity: yet complexity too.

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