It sounds like something out of a fairytale: a tree that blooms in a gorgeous color and produces a bounty of every kind of fruit you can imagine. Artist and Syracuse University art professor Sam Van Aken envisioned such a thing and set out to make “The Tree of 40 Fruits” a reality.
He visualized a tree that would be incredible in form and function.
Van Aken grew up on a farm in Reading, Pennsylvania. There, he learned about an agricultural technique called grafting, which joins two genetically similar plants to make a hybrid.
For “The Tree of 40 Fruits,” he focused on stone fruits, sometimes known to botanists as drupes. Stone fruits have an outer fleshy part that surrounds a shelled seed. Apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, dates and mangos fall under this classification.
Although the trees start off looking like a mad scientist’s project, they show an artist’s touch when they bloom in the spring.
The tree’s 40 fruits range from nectarines to almonds, and bloom in tandem over the course of several months.
The oldest of Van Aken’s trees are 3 years old, but even the young saplings are a stunning tribute to biodiversity and the wonder of the natural world.
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