It must be ten years ago or more late one autumn that I was walking by a little lake and there were a ton of these beneath a tree by the shore. Very curious, they were hard and black and the points were sharp and all in all these seeds just looked very fearsome.
I kept some in a cup and put them in the garage, not without reasonable misgiving. For years they sat, never hatching, or sprouting, or doing whatever they were supposed to do. Finally a few years ago I decided to un-riddle the mystery. This might have taken a special research library when I was a child. Knowledge is becoming so cheap – it’s like it’s not knowledge anymore, just facts passing through, available to anyone who has a moment, but what are facts but props for opinions anyway – be careful about getting involved with them.
Anyway, that picture is what I found at http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=trna_002_ahp.tif which lead me to learn it’s a water chestnut (though not the one known in chinese cooking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleocharis_dulcis), or water caltrop. I had been fooled by the location next to the tree – these were underwater vines, underwater nuts. The story is quite interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_caltrop. Apparently in ancient times Europeans would eat these both as a famine food and where agriculture was still nascent. In America they are pernicious, invasive, certainly not native.
Chalk this post up to sharing knowledge/information. I used to think I could meaningfully differentiate between those things. I remember hearing once that knowledge was the organization of information such that it became useful. I never liked that definition because it made knowledge little more than a servant of purpose. I still don’t like that definition. I’d like knowledge to mean ‘the possession of information whose character will never need to be revised because it is true’. But I ramble a bit. Knowledge, as I would like to consider it, is decidedly out of fashion in the internet age. We have lots and lots of information. Just a bunch of bits passing through. Of course they’ll be different tomorrow than today. And we tend to prefer the most common.
I am still hoping that nothing untoward is born from those seeds, regardless of all I have read.