I had hoped these were butternuts, but I think they are black walnuts. They are closely related. Butternuts are supposed to be football-shaped and these are pretty round. I am looking for butternut trees everywhere, but haven't found any that can be confirmed as such, alas.
I really want to eat the nuts! Both butternuts and walnuts can be used to make dye or ink from the black stuff in the husks--see it above? Pretty yucky.
We (Gibbie and Mama) cracked open these husks with a hammer. That was fun. They break open and you can take the nuts out. Then you let the nuts cure for a few months and shell them. When I open the nuts, it will be undeniably obvious whether they are butternuts of walnuts. Butternuts are threatened by a black canker that kills the trees. Pretty sad.We were not very smart about this, however. After whacking the husks off, we left our little pile of nuts just next to our car. Not very surprisingly, when we returned from our walk in the woods, a squirrel (or other enterprising creature?) had carried off half of them. I thought they were too unappealing for anybody to take them, but forgot about our little beasty neighbors.
Butternuts supposedly have a sweet banana-vanilla-nutty flavor when they are let to cure without their husks. I figure if I keep looking I'll find a good butternut tree eventually. If you have one to recommend, and are sick of all those pesky, wormy, nuts falling in your yard and staining your sidewalk and patio, hey--let me know and I'll come clean them up for you!