I can sure tell which direction the winds have blown from lately by the maple seeds scattered to the north all the way to our neighbor’s fence — 108 feet away – hundreds and hundreds of seeds. They even made it to our front porch with a tall box elder and arborvitae in between.
Silver maples grow tall and need their seeds to travel far from the tree, so the young trees won’t be shaded by the parent. In other words, the seeds have to stay airborne long enough to travel a significant distance. The seeds “helicopter” down because of the combination of the weight of the seed, the veins on the wing, and the shape of the wing. I found detailed information on how the seeds travel from the website: www.dandydesigns.org/id59.html. I’m a strong visual person, and the information was a tad over my head.
Another website said the seeds are edible and told how to prepare them. I had never thought about them being edible. The seeds should be gathered when the wings are still green. Some taste better than others. A suggestion to go by: small and sweet, big and bitter. Remove from the outer skin. They can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. Taste a few. If they’re bitter, boil them in water to remove the tannins, dump out the water and repeat until no longer bitter. Season with butter, salt and pepper. They can also be roasted on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and bake @350 for 8-10 minutes. Another option is drying them in a food dehydrator until crunchy, or placing them outside it a dry sunny spot. The dried seeds can also be ground into flour.
They sound like they might be good in salads or eaten like nuts. I think I’ll give them a try next spring.