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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

They’re everywhere


They look like some miniature Stars-Wars-villain spaceship: a somewhat triangular-shaped pod with three black spikes. Such are the seeds of Eurasian water chestnut. Eurasian water chestnut clogs parts of the Hudson River and is on the state’s most-wanted aquatic invasive-plant list. chestnut2.jpg

And the seed pods are seemingly everywhere, washed up on the river’s shore. I’ve seen oodles at Norrie Point and the ones in the photographs were in Beacon. In the shoreline photo below, look for the black pods among all the driftwood.

Betsy Blair, manager of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, said the plants were released in a garden pond near Schenectady in the late 19th century.


“They gradually made their way into the Mohawk River and down to the Hudson, making their appearance in the late 1930s or so. They now occupy about 2% of the river’s surface area, although you might think it’s more when viewing some of the larger patches of bright green floating vegetation during the growing season,” she wrote in an e-mail.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 at 4:05 pm by Mike Risinit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Eurasian water chestnut, Hudson River, Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Invasive plants, invasive species



18 Responses to “They’re everywhere”

  1. Jenny

    Great article. I found some more information here

  2. Tim & Ginny Brosnan

    Thanks for solving a mystery for me.
    Last summer I found odd items on the shore at Jones Beach, Long Island.
    I thought they were a seed of some kind, but I hadn’t a clue as to from what plant or tree they were from. I guessed maybe they rode north from the Caribbean or from the south east on the gulf stream as the originals were found shortly after a hurricane .
    They certainly are weird looking.
    Yesterday, I found a few more at Jones Beach.
    I did a google image search using search term, “seed pod with 4 spikes”,
    Your page came up, bingo, Eurasian Water Chestnut!

  3. Dave

    This answers a question I have had for 30 years. I inherited a old, large Rosary that is made of these chestnuts and didn’t know what they were. My Family was Roman Catholic from Brooklyn, NY, the mouth of the Hudson.
    Thanks for the article. I would post a picture, but I don’t know how.
    Dave R

  4. Augustina Rushforth

    Well that’s one way of thinking about things. It is good to have ones thoughts shaken up occasionally to help you to re-examine your personal bias and habits in thinking. I might not agree with everything, but I value your own personal insight.

  5. Ed Cleaveland

    Just googled “pointy seed pods” and found a picture of the mysterious “pods” I found on the shores of Sodus Bay, on Lake Ontario, 25 miles east of Rochester, N. Y. Found out they are from a Eurasian water chestnut.

  6. christina

    Just found one of these things in Seaside Heights, New Jersey washed up on the beach. Is it unusual for them to be in this area?

  7. travis

    found at lake Ontario in NY

  8. Laurie

    Has anyone stepped on one of these sharp seed pods and had foot pain for a prolonged period of time (a week or more)? This just happened to me. I wonder if a little sharp plant splinter worked its way into my flesh.

  9. Laurie

    I always remember seeing them even when I was younger. I had one puncture my sidewall of my tire last year. Just recently I was down at Norey Point with my boyfriend and noticed them. Then I saw some ducks swimming, and wondered if their webbed feet ever get punchtered by th if they go to step on them. I know you can’t do much to get rid of them, but if groups could get together to sweep and clean them up, then at least we would be doing something, cuz those things are a nusence.

  10. Corene

    Thanks for this post. They certainly are successful at spreading… I found a Eurasian water chestnut seed pod on the banks of Satterly Creek in Washingtonville yesterday… I remember as a child visiting West Point, seeing tons of these pods on the shore of the Hudson River, and being impressed by how alien-looking they seemed. Interesting to now find one in our little stream

  11. Nancy

    I have these in a pond on property I just purchased. I field-train my dogs and need to get these little monsters out of my pond. Does anyone know how to do that?

  12. gwen pratt

    OMW I just found these on a property with a pond I just purchased in Leicester Ma,

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  14. chyrle russ

    Are the water plants edible? Cound we crush and grind the seed pods to burn for fuel? How is it being deterred? It is showing up in the Merrimack river and up at the Pow Wow river in NH.

  15. J Dolan

    How can I get ahold of some of these? I live on the west coast. Would like to use them for crafts.

  16. Rhonda

    My kids stepped on them at a beach … Let alone being very pointy, they left a bunch of tiny slivers ,you can hardly see them . I had to pull the tiny slivers out of both kids feet !

  17. crispen madrid

    I recently found one on Durant Beach Rochester NY….thought it curious so i picked it up for some research.

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About this blog
The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.


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About the authors
SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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