What is this strange helicopter/fan/pinwheel-like fruit?
July 9, 2009 12:35 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine made this mobile for my soon-to-be-born baby's nursery from found objects on hiking trips in several states. One of the dangly(sp?) things is this weird pinwheel shaped fruit. Its about 5" across and as you can see the pods dehisced along the one edge--no seeds were found in the fruit. He thinks he found it either in California or Nevada (or the desert SW).

We're both botanists/ecologists who work in the northeastern US and we don't really have anything like it out here. I spent a little bit of time researching it, but I don't have much to go on. Its a little embarrassing when my friends ask 'what's that plant?" and I have no clue. Any help is greatly appreciated!
posted by buttercup to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
The most common thing I can think of in Arizona that has seed pods like that is the agave, like this one. Five inches across seems big for an agave though.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:28 PM on July 9, 2009

Best answer: I think it might be Brachychiton acerilfolius. They grow them as street trees in San Francisco. Pics of pods. If so, you should remove it from above the crib as the hairs inside the pods can cause an allergic reaction.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:13 PM on July 9, 2009

oops, acerifolius. There is only one l.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:14 PM on July 9, 2009

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