Maple Seed Swirling Through the Air (image) California Institute of Technology Caption When maple seeds become airborne they pick up downward speed and start to spin around their center of gravity, which is located in the nut. This spinning motion is induced by the airflow around the seed as it descends to the ground. Because the spinning, helicopter-like, motion of the maple seeds arises automatically, it is called autorotation. The autorotation slows down the descent of the seed such that the seed can be carried further away from the tree by wind. Credit David Lentink Usage Restrictions Credit line must say: Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.