Good Thinking

Artist creates multicolored trees that grow 40 different types of fruit

Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different types of stone fruit (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different types of stone fruit (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different types of stone fruit (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different types of stone fruit (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
Artist Sam Van Aken began the Tree of 40 Fruit project in 2008 and has been creating new trees and developing the process ever since (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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Artist Sam Van Aken began the Tree of 40 Fruit project in 2008 and has been creating new trees and developing the process ever since (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
During spring, the trees blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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During spring, the trees blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
The trees are created by grafting scions from other trees into cuts on the tree being modified (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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The trees are created by grafting scions from other trees into cuts on the tree being modified (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
The grafting process can be successful due to the similar chromosomal structure of stone fruit trees (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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The grafting process can be successful due to the similar chromosomal structure of stone fruit trees (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
Each tree produces its variety of fruits during summer (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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Each tree produces its variety of fruits during summer (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
Among the fruits used are peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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Among the fruits used are peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
Van Aken says the project has become a means of conserving less well known stone fruit varieties (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
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Van Aken says the project has become a means of conserving less well known stone fruit varieties (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)

A project by artist Sam Van Aken will delight lovers of fruit. The Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different types of stone fruit.

Van Aken began the Tree of 40 Fruit project in 2008 and has been creating new trees and developing the process ever since. The artist had recently completed a project called Eden in which he grafted vegetables and flowers together and was offered the opportunity to design an orchard. "Ultimately funding for this orchard fell through," Van Aken explains to Gizmag. "But, still wanting to continue with the project, I decided to graft the entire orchard onto one tree."

During spring, the trees blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
During spring, the trees blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)

The grafting process entails the collection of scions (young shoots or cuttings) from trees. These sections are then worked into similar sized cuts on the new tree and are bandaged. The cutting then "heals" into the tree and is able to draw water and nutrients from the tree in the same way as any other branch. The process is possible due to the similar chromosomal structure of stone fruit trees.

Among the fruits that Van Aken uses to create his trees are peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries. However, the artist says that the project opened his eyes to the vast number of stone fruit types that exist but that aren't used.

Each tree produces its variety of fruits during summer (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)
Each tree produces its variety of fruits during summer (Image: Sam Van Aken / Ronald Feldman Fine Art)

"As the project evolved and I discovered that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties of stone fruit compared to the three or four varieties one would find at a local grocer, I realized that I could also use the Tree of 40 Fruit Project as a means to preserve these heirloom varieties," he says.

During spring, the trees blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white. Each produces its variety of fruits during summer.

Sources: Sam Van Aken, Tree of 40 Fruit

6 comments
f8lee
Another "Frankenfood"!! Let the crowns gather their pitchforks and torches!
moreover
Fascinating! My neighbor planted two "variety trees" last year (from Costco, of all places) which have four different apple varieties. It works. As for apples: you can't actually grow good apples from seeds as the new tree's fruit will be inedible 95% of the time. Apples have to be grafted, as described in the article. What Johnny Appleseed did in pioneer America was give people a supply of apples which were good for one thing: making applejack, an apple brandy (and to allow settlers to comply with a regulation that demanded a certain number of trees planted per homestead).
kalqlate
Brilliant! I would like to try this.
redjeff53
bravo! start a few of these in your greenhouse, and put them in your yard!
voluntaryist
Grafting used to be a hit/miss. I guess it has become easier. Good. I would buy a tree with multi-fruit, but not sub-species of apple. One tree with grapefruit, blood orange, mineola, lime, myers lemon. A tree with many plums/many peaches. What about cross pollination spoiling the taste?
Richardf
As this is a public work of art i propose aking it one step futher. Many of us do not pick fruit from trees much any more , more so in citys, pollution etc and education on rip times etc,therfore fruit only serves as an astetic in a public space , even when ( interactive ie eatable the art disapears when consumed. Grass however is abundent and boring. Altering the color of grass in public zones would be of more artful taste. Specific zones could have various intentions such as relax or energy zones, taking and manipulating the color to have better more posative effects on emotions the luch time walk or nap in the park or walking the dog/. Defence of grenner is non valid becuse it is almost infinit on earth.