MAY 23, 2017 9:50 AM PDT

How can one tree grow 40 different fruits?

Imagine one tree that grows all the fruits you could ever desire. Well, it exists, and every year it grows peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, almonds, and more. One man's fascination with grafting developed into this project and it is still thriving!

Sam Van Aken, the man behind the tree, is an artist and professor at the University of Syracuse and he sees the Forty-Fruit Tree as something of an art project. He says he likes the evolution of the project, because every year it changes on its own and by his will. By creating a timeline of when different varieties blossom and fruit, he is able to create a uniquely beautiful and colorful show of nature. He will map the branches where he has grafted different varieties in order to keep a record of his work, thus ensuring how a blossom or fruit sculpture will turn out. "Yeah," he says, chuckling, "It takes a lot of time."

Every tree will grow for three years before he even begins grafting; then every year he is able to double the number of branches he grafts. The whole process takes eight to nine years. His first forty variety tree was planted in 2011 and still needs a couple more years before it hits its peak blossoming point.
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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