I found these seed pods in some flower pots that I picked up roadside for free. I've been scouring the internet but can't find anything that looks like them. Does anybody know what they might be? Any help appreciated! enter image description here

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  • Might help to know where you are located. :)
    – Ben
    Aug 5, 2017 at 17:07
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    Northern Illinois. I'm not sure if they were from plants that were in the pots, or if a squirrel stashed them there. I haven't opened them up b/c I was thinking of planting them and wasn't sure if that would destroy their viability? If not then I'll crack one open and snap a pic.
    – brownthumb
    Aug 5, 2017 at 18:18
  • Okay... I think maybe it's some kind of immature walnut? The hard/leathery skin peeled off and what was left looked kind of like a fig. The pic above is what it looked like once I opened it up. It was hard to get a good shot but the inside structure was very similar to a walnut with a tiny forming nut/seed in the middle. So that's my best guess, though I've never seen any that small before. Thoughts?
    – brownthumb
    Aug 5, 2017 at 19:26
  • What is the scale? I found pics of walnut (Quercus nigra) and though they are similar especially the one you broke open I just don't think it is walnut. Did you find these in Illinois? I mean along the roadside in Illinois? Really need some scale, though. The skin of yours is smooth where the walnut seeds are very ridged. What types of trees are indigenous and are found in the native brush?
    – stormy
    Aug 5, 2017 at 23:17
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    I am OCD with ID...good grief. Okay how about white walnut/butternut? Juglans cinerea?agritech.tnau.ac.in/forestry/forestry_tree_seeds/index2.html#
    – stormy
    Aug 5, 2017 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


This could well be the native American Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) or the Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata). The former with smooth bark is more common than the latter with rough peeling bark.

Squirrels and chipmunks like to collect these nuts for their winter stores and will very readily create holes in the soil of your potted plants to bury them. As a result it is quite common to see a hickory tree appear in among your geranium collection.

Edit: Bitternut nuts from this year's crop and again More stuff

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