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Japanese maples (acer palmatum) leaves and seeds. Westonbirt Arboretum GloucestershireWestonbirt Arboretum Gloucestershire

Spotter’s Guide to Fruits of the Forest


Scientific name: Fraxinus excelsior
When? Sep-Oct
Ash SeedsFruits & nuts: These seeds are known as keys, possibly because they resemble large bunches of keys hanging in the trees. When they fall from the tree they spin down to the ground, often landing some distance from the parent tree.

Pedunculate oak 

Scientific name: Quercus robur 
When? Oct 
Oak nutFruits & nuts: Acorns are the largest seed produced by a native tree, and are also a favourite of wood mice, Grey squirrels and Jays. Watch out for squirrels and Jays furtively burying acorns in grassy areas as a way of storing them for eating later, and hiding them from other squirrels and birds.


Beech nutScientific name: Fagus sylvatica
When? Sep-Oct 
Fruits & nuts: Beechnuts are small, sharply three-angled nuts that can grow singly or in pairs in soft-spined husks.


Scientific name: Carpinus betulus 
When? late Aug-Sep 
HornbeamFruits & nuts: The seed of Hornbeam is a small nut about 3-6 mm long, held in a leafy bract With three lobes.  The asymmetry of the bract makes it spin as it falls from the tree. These seeds are a favourite of the Hawfinch and this makes it a good place to look out for this heavy-billed finch.


Scientific name: Crataegus monogyna
When? Sep-Oct 
Hawthorn BerriesFruits & nuts: Haw, a small oval dark red fruit, berry-like but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Another favourite with birds, especially Fieldfares, Redwings and Waxwings who eat the berries and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Field maple

Field Maple fresh green leaves and seed. Acer campestreScientific name: Acer campestre 
When? Aug-Oct
Fruits & nuts: The botanical name for these fruits is Schizocarps. The seed is at one end of a papery wing that causes the fruit to spin as it falls giving rise to their popular name of helicopters.

Small-leaved lime 

Scientific name: Tilia cordata 
When? Sep-Oct 
Small leaved limeFruits & nuts: The fruit is a nut-like drupe, a stone surrounding by flesh, similar to an olive or mango in form but smaller. Another seed designed for wind dispersal, but this time the ‘wing’ is formed from a leafy appendage at the base of the fruit stalk.


Rowan BerriesScientific name: Sorbus aucuparia  
When? Aug-Sep 
Fruits & nuts: From late august onwards the berries on this tree begin to turn bright orange. Some horticultural varieties of this tree have yellow berries and these are commonly planted in towns and cities where they can sometimes attract large flocks of Waxwings during the winter.


Scientific name: Corylus avellana 
When? Sep-Oct 
Hazel NutsFruits & nuts: While on the tree these nuts are enclosed by a papery cup known as an involucre. Once ripe they fall to the ground where animals such as dormice and wood mice feed on them. The holes chewed in the shells by dormice are different from those made by wood mice and are often the only sign that they are present in a woodland.

Scots pine 

Scientific name: Pinus sylvestris 
Scots pine coneWhen? Sep-Oct
Fruits & nuts: One of our three native conifer species - the others being Yew (Taxus baccata) and Common juniper (Juniperus communis). The ripening cones of this tree are starting to become visible on the trees now, turning from green to brown over winter. The winged seeds are released next spring and summer.

Douglas fir 

Scientific name: Pseudotsuga menziesii 
When? Oct-Apr 
Douglas fir coneFruits & nuts: The cones of this coniferous tree are readily identified by the three-pronged bract that protudes from between the cone scales. Native to North America, this tree is a common forestry species in the British isles.

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.