It looked dead. From a distance there was more lifeless tan than green. “Impossible,” I thought, “it can’t be dead.” Closer, the truth became clear. What seemed to be numerous dead spots were actually uncountable numbers of seeds hanging in clusters from the branches. My eyes began to scan the other trees like it growing in the neighborhood. All of them were weighed down with immeasurable numbers of seeds.
Many silver maple trees have been introduced to our neighborhood. For our Latin friends, it is called Acer saccharinum. The word saccharin, a sweetener, originates from the Latin word Saccharinum. It means yielding or containing sugar. Silver maples also produce “helicopters.” If you’ve been around children when the seeds fall, you’ll know why they are called helicopters. Next to a bird, the seed from the silver maple tree may fly better than anything else in nature.
These seeds have another name, samaras. Samaras are a tiny wing-with a seed on one end. The weight of the seed at the small end keeps the seed end low. As the seed spins the air pressure lowers at the wing end providing lift. In the wind, samaras fly great distances. The weight of the seed causes the samara to “land” seed end down pointed to earth. A slight downward pressure brings the seed in contact with the earth.
This is no accidental design. It is too perfect. They may also be considered signals.
The immense seed production of the silver maple can be a source of irritation for gardeners and those wishing to keep flower beds in perfect order. Recently we put the fresh landscape bark around the perennial flowers growing around our house. Beautiful. Then the silver maple seeds ripened and changed color from green to tan. A few days later thousands upon thousands of silver maple seeds fell. Our neighborhood was covered with “helicopters,” so was our fresh landscape bark.
One positive, our grandchildren took great delight in re-flying them.
You can see God in these little helicopters. From them we understand a bit more what infinity is. Try counting them. My grandson delights in numbers. However, he and I soon tired of trying to estimate how many samaras were on our front lawn alone.
You can see divinity. God’s divine nature is in the intricate design found on the “wings.” Rather than be frustrated over the seeming “mess” they made, my choice was to delight in their beauty and design. They do fly. The fact that possibly millions of them are now on the ground in our neighborhood is testimony to the infinite power of God as Creator.
Why are so many seeds are produced? God knows. They are food for wildlife. They do produce new trees. Many become humus and nourish the soil.
But why so many? One answer-they demonstrate God’s abundance. God produced a vast number, more than seems to be needed. One look at the abundance of samaras and you may also understand the infinity of God’s love. It is more limitless than silver maple seed.
The Psalmist said this about God: “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24) These tiny samaras give testimony to God’s abundant, everywhere present and real love. Bible writer John explained it this way, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10
God wants us to know Him. He is continually sending signals. During this season, it is samaras. He must really want to get our attention He sent thousands and thousands of them.