From Steve, the Park Naturalist
This is a picture of a seed pod from a Kentucky Coffee tree located next to the park headquarters building. The pod generally grows from 5” to 10” in length.
The name came from early settlers who thought the seeds resembled coffee beans.
A grove of Kentucky coffee trees in Winnebago County, WI resulted from Native Americans. Native Americans passing through the area brought the pods with them.
The seeds were used as dice in a gambling game. (Source: Every Root an Anchor by R. Bruce Allison)
More than a few park visitors have asked what tree this spiky, golf ball sized object came from. When I tell them that you can actually eat what is inside, they don’t believe me. The prickly outer covering protects chestnuts. The American Chestnut tree is uncommon this far east. The tree was common on the eastern portion of the U.S. until falling victim to a fungus called the chestnut blight.