The buckeye harvest

Our Ohio Buckeye tree is rapidly being harvested by the local gray squirrel population.

gray squirrel eating buckeye nuts

Gray Squirrels make quick work of this large nut, by stripping off the outer spongy hull to get to the larger brown seeds inside.

A half dozen squirrels race up and down the trunk and branches, cutting the nuts from the terminal parts of the branches, then quickly de-hulling them, and carrying the brown seeds off to their hidden caches.

gray squirrel eating buckeye nuts

It takes some acrobatic maneuvers to get to some of the nuts on the tree.

gray squirrel eating buckeye nuts

A young squirrel copying the example of his elders — but going the wrong direction (up the tree) with his prize.

Nuts of the Ohio buckeye

1-3 shiny brown nuts can be found within the spongy hull of the buckeye.  Carrying buckeye nuts around in your pocket is supposed to bring good luck….  (Photo by H.Zell, from Wikimedia Commons.)

It’s somewhat surprising that the squirrels place such value on these toxic nuts, which are so poisonous to domestic animals and pets.  Indians apparently found a way to detoxify their high tannic acid and alkaloid content by roasting, grinding, and leaching the nuts before pounding the extract into a powder for a nut-bread concoction.

gray squirrel eating buckeye nuts

Those are some sharp lower incisors that can chip through the tough outer shell of the nut.

gray squirrel eating buckeye nuts

The aftermath of the harvest is a big pile of leaves and hull debris on the lawn, which is pretty difficult to rake up.

gray squirrel eating buckeye nuts-

Enjoying the fruits of the harvest. I’m just glad these squirrels prefer buckeye nuts to my Honeycrisp apples!

10 thoughts on “The buckeye harvest

    • The Ohio Buckeye is native to the midwest and Great Plains states, but apparently it has invaded New York state as well as elsewhere in the northeastern U.S. I would think with the number of nuts that squirrels bury each year that the tree would spread over the landscape quite nicely.

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