How to Identify Edible Chestnuts

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Edible chestnuts. Nuts are tapered on one end and burrs have many thin spikes.

Chestnut trees can be identified by their leaves, which are long and oval-shaped with small curved hooks along their sides. The leaves are yellow-green in spring and summer, and yellow in the fall.

It’s easy to mix up edible chestnuts with horse chestnuts, which look similar but are poisonous. Horse chestnut trees are often mistakenly planted near edible chestnut trees, making identification trickier.

You can tell the difference by looking at the nut (chestnuts always have a taper on one end; horse chestnuts don’t) or the burr. Both edible chestnuts and horse chestnuts have green burrs, but they look different. Edible chestnuts have burrs with many thin spikes, while horse chestnuts have burrs with few, harder spikes.

Horse chestnuts. "Nuts" do not have tapered ends and burrs are hard with few spikes.

An easy way to keep them straight is remembering that an edible chestnut looks like a koosh and a horse chestnut looks like a koopa shell.