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August 7, 2014

The Tree of 40 Fruits. ~ Brenna Fischer

Photo: ladybugbkt

No, this is not the title of a lost Dr. Seuss gem, and yes, you did read the title correctly.

Such a tree actually exists and it was a guy by the name of Sam Van Aken, who made it possible. It does not involve anything crazy like animal sacrifice, hallucinogenics, or genetic engineering. Instead, Sam did it the old fashion way, using a technique called grafting. By splicing a small part of one tree onto another it is possible to get the two (or 40) plants to grow in unison.

Van Aken is an associate professor in the arts department at Syracuse University. The idea for the tree of 40 fruits was born from his fascination of all the colors (and of course the fruits) one tree could produce.

Initially, living in New York stifled his plans slightly because there are only so many stone fruits growing in that area of the country. But then he found The New York State Agricultural Experimentation Station, which is only the largest orchard in the Northeast.

Serendipity! 

Van Aken fell in love with the idea of this orchard and all its different fruits, including antique and heirloom varieties. The more he learned about the history of these historic fruits the more important it seemed to preserve them, which is ultimately what the project became about.

In 2008 the orchard ran out of funding and was in danger of being closed, so Van Aken bought it in order to continue the preservation of these rare varieties and, of course, to realize the dream of the 40-Fruit-Tree.

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   Editor: Travis May

   Photo Credit: ladybugbkt/Flickr

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