I first noticed these spiky balls on a tree in the spring.
Then I forgot about them until a few weeks ago when I saw some on the ground under the same tree. I wondered what was inside them so I grabbed one, like you would an apple, to pluck it and take it home where I would open it. Turns out, those spikes are hard and like hypodermic needles! I let go immediately. I thought I could get home with it cupped ever so gently in the palms of my hands. I took 5 steps before I had to drop it. So I stomped on it and these seriously deflated looking things came out. I found out they are chestnuts (well they would have been had they actually developed). I asked the owners if I could pick some to try them out. They said I could help myself. I didn't have gloves or anything so I waited a few days. When I went back they said that they weren't able to find any good chestnuts and they weren't sure what went wrong that year. They said I could still help myself but I decided it wouldn't be worth my time. She took me on a tour of their garden and gave me 2 eggplants and 3 jalapenos. I got a taste of stevia as well. It really is quite sweet! They have a fig tree and she said I could help myself in the summer time to those as well. She was a very nice lady!
Well, fast forward, I found this pecan tree on someone else's lawn. When we walk by I grab the pecans that are sitting on the sidewalk. I chat with the owner occasionally, whenever he's outside as we walk by. One evening, he was out chopping firewood for his wood stove. I asked him about the pecans and he said that they had already picked 42 pounds and I could have as many as I wanted. :o) I went back the next day for those. He mentioned he had a chestnut tree back near the barn and they never eat them so if I wanted to try some, to go ahead.
I've never had chestnuts so it's worth an experiment. The squirrels had already gotten most of the chestnuts. Note to self: collect chestnuts when they start falling, not a few weeks later. So I gathered the few I was able to find. I had to move the spiky hulls around with my shoes. I really didn't get many but I did get enough to at least find out if I like them or not.
Here's the tree...not a great picture since the sun was setting.
Here's what I collected. There's those MEAN hulls! I am learning alot about how nuts grow this year. I would never want a chestnut tree or a walnut tree on my property...but I would welcome a pecan tree.
This chestnut had the most personality. It was difficult to get out of the hull and it wanted to keep this mohawk.
Food is fun! :o)