I usually learn the name of new plant or tree by "discovering it" in the wild, and searching for it's most prominent properties on Google Images. This time, however, I had the reverse happen. I was looking through Backyard Foraging and noticed how other-wordly chestnuts look. Here's a an example from this site:
Seriously, a nut wrapped in green or brown spines? You'd have to be blind not to notice this tree in your neighborhood. I mean, what could be easier to identify? I'd certainly never seen a chestnut tree, I knew that much.
And then I'm on a run last night, a route I've done hundreds of times (though not within the last year, probably) and across from a set of baseball fields in Pentagon City I see these guys hanging from trees:
Holy Smokes, I do believe those are chestnuts in the making! Chestnuts are apparently ripe in the fall, so what I think I'm seeing there are a batch of unripe ones. And we're not talking one tree, we're talking like 3 or 4 of them. And again, this isn't in some hidden corner of Arlington, this is a 2 minute walk from Pentagon City Mall.
Once again, I give you the difference between seeing and paying attention.