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A tree that gives 40 types of fruits

Is it a sculpture? Is it a marvel of gardening? It is all that and it is a single fruit tree with multiple grafts.

tree of 40 fruits
tree of 40 fruits

The  American sculptor Sam Van Aken conceived the “tree of 40 fruits” as a kind of natural Frankenstein. The tree, which has already been planted in different locations in the United States, is the product of an idea that wanted to mix unusual media, something very common in artists. In this case, instead of brushes and pencils, we have trees and fruits.

The project ‘Tree of 40 Fruit’, consists of a series of hybrid fruit trees. Through the graft, Van Aken, who is also an art professor at the University of Syracuse in New York (USA) has grown more than 40 varieties of fruits such as plums, apricots and cherries, in a single tree. Each tree produces 40 types of stone fruits, of the Prunus genus , which mature sequentially from July to October in this country. 

I wanted to have a tree that would bloom in different colors“says Van Aken, who learned about grafting as a child.” I saw my grandfather do it, and it was the most magical and incredible thing I’ve ever seen. He took a branch from a peach tree and put it on another tree. He said, ‘wait here, and by next spring it will start to grow and it will become another branch,’ and that actually happened.”

This family background in agriculture led Van Aken to use this curious medium to create art. 

Since the project began about eight years ago, it has created more than a score of 40 fruit trees , most of them on display in North America, either in community gardens, museums or private collections (in Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania…). Others have traveled to Sweden and even in China.

Van Aken’s intention is to manipulate nature to enhance its beauty. This type of initiative has its condition: to see if a graft has come to fruition it is necessary to wait for years and we must be very careful with the pruning and strategic areas in which the grafts are placed, as well as work around the growth cycle of each fruit that is used.


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