Monthly Image: Chestnut Burrs!

Much to our utter astonishment, this appeared on the driveway:

Chestnut burr
Chestnut burr

We’ve since found half a dozen chestnut burrs in the yard, which means at least two trees (it takes two to cross-fertilize) are growing in the immediate area.

We originally thought they were American Chestnuts, but Mary (being a Master Gardener) found enough references including comparative burr pictures to convince us they’re Chinese Chestnuts.

We’ve seen squirrels carrying the burrs in their mouths from the trees to wherever they bury their food supply, as shown by this gnawed spot on the other side of the burr:

Chestnut burr - gnawed section
Chestnut burr – gnawed section

I regard this as conclusive proof that squirrels either have no sense of pain or no lips, because I can’t imagine carrying that thing in my hand, let alone gnawing through it to extract the nuts inside.

Each burr contains three nuts, although this empty husk shows some nuts can fail to fill out:

Chestnut burr - interior with failed nut
Chestnut burr – interior with failed nut

We don’t know where the trees are, but the squirrels seem to carry the burrs across our yard from north to south, so they can’t be too far from us or each other.

Despite our conclusion, it’s faintly possible they’re American Chestnuts, in which case they’re definitely survivors!