Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trip Report: Nuts!

We led a somewhat unusual walk this weekend in that it was mostly on the edge of sports fields. It's amazing what you can find just in the little patches of wild space right in the middle of things.

Our main focus was nuts: the Chinese chestnuts and black walnuts are dropping. Both present real barriers to easy eating: chestnut hulls are covered in prickles, and black walnuts have one of the hardest shells of any nut. But we did our best to get at the tasty snacks inside!

black walnuts
Black walnuts (Juglans nigra)

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The shells of black walnut are incredibly hard,
but you can get them open with a hammer.

Chinese chestnut(Castanea mollissima)

Beware the prickly chestnut husks! We kicked them with our feet until they opened up to the point we could remove the nuts.

Preview of coming attractions: before we even left the parking lot, we saw persimmons starting to ripen up. It will be several more weeks before they're plentiful, but a few early fruits are already starting to drop. Just make sure you get the really ripe, soft, falling off the tree fruits, or they'll make your mouth pucker something awful.

ripening persimmons
American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
Also spotted on the trail:
  • Acorns (Quercus sp.) are also dropping, though they weren't plentiful in our particular spot.
  • There are also wild grapes (Vitis riparia?) growing right over Rock Creek, but they weren't plentiful either.
  • Black haw viburnums (Viburnum prunifolium) have set their fruit, but they're green now; they'll be black (and edible) when they're fully ripe.
What have you been seeing on the trail? Leave a comment and let us know!

Next walk: Autumn olives and other fall edibles on October 9 at Lake Artemesia. Register here.