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Maple seedlings

Maple seedlings sprout in a Lincoln yard. 

The millions of maple helicopter seeds that took flight last month — clogging downspouts, covering driveways and landing in lawns — are now taking root.

The sprouting seedlings are turning your yards into little maple forests. And flourishing in your flower boxes, filling your widow wells, growing in your gutters.

Conditions were ripe this spring for a bumper crop of maple seeds, said Lorri Grueber, Lincoln's outreach forester.

“We had so much precipitation, and maples love their water,” she said. “They’re very happy. And they are prolific germinators.”

But they shouldn’t be considered much of a problem. If they’re sharing space with your grass, a lawnmower will make them disappear.

“Just mowing them will take care of them; usually, one mowing will kill them,” she said. “The seed can only sprout once, and once you’ve mowed the ones that sprouted, they won’t resprout.”

If you find more tiny maples reappearing after mowing, those are likely from seeds that hadn’t yet sprouted.

Grueber discouraged the use of herbicides: A broadleaf killer such as 2-4-D will knock the maples down but not out. Roundup would kill them, but it would also take your grass.

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And those seedlings showing up in other parts of your property? She recommended hand-plucking. At this stage, they’ll pull right out, giving you time to get ready for Round Two.

Next up: Ash trees. But they’re not happy like the maples. They’re desperate, under pressure from a host of pests — most notably the emerald ash borer — so they’re responding with what’s known as last-ditch syndrome, Grueber said.

“When a tree gets super-stressed and the tree is in decline, they can also produce a bumper crop of seeds.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter.

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Reporter

Peter Salter is a reporter.

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