I love the stately American Beech,Fagus grandifolia, but all the critters in the forest love it even more. It produces lots of beechnuts, which are often called mast. Many animals depend on food like this in the winter. Here's what the beech nuts look like when they appear on the tree.
The spiky shells split open when they fall to the ground and there is a three-part nut inside. I like the way they taste, but they can be bitter. They are better after the first frost. Supposedly you can grind them into flour or roast them for a coffee substitute, but I've never tried any of that.
Here's the husk, close up.
I'm getting ready to sneak off for a week- I'll tell you more tomorrow.