Aries Maple and Maple Joys Synopsis: "Regardless of the voices and actions surrounding us, might we empower ourselves by being the first to speak our truth - to create changes in a very new manner? Might we welcome the potential growth of yet another new season with complete eagerness and enthusiasm? If we trust our individual inner voice (the Wind) above the voice of the world, all will be well indeed." - Carol Alleman. Japanese Maple Facts: The seeds of the Japanese maple are often referred to as samaras or keys. Common slang nicknames for the two-legged seed pods include helicopters, whirly-gigs and whirlybirds. The seed's smart design helps the wind to propel them great distances on their journey from branch to ground, spinning as they fly and fall. Typically, the Japanese maple produces its first blooms well before other local trees - flowering in late winter or the earliest days of spring (sometimes with or even before the leaves spout). Seed maturation is a few weeks to six months after the flowers appear. The Japanese maple's red leaves are 5 or 7 palmed and pointed. Typically a small, slow-growing tree, the Japanese maple often matures into a domelike form. Some species can live to be more than 100 years old. Its older bark is grayish while the fresher bark is green or reddish. According to Joan Maloof's book, Teaching the Trees (2007), the Japanese maple produces chemicals which are distasteful to forest tent caterpillars and gypsy moth caterpillars - two of the most serious tree defoliators in eastern North America.