A 40 Fruit Art Tree

A tree that is capable of holding 40 different kinds of fruit sounds like a cute idea for a children’s story or the ravings of a crazed gardener. But Sam Van Aken, a New York based artist and professor at Syracuse University, has made this otherwise absurdist idea into a reality with his ongoing piece titled “The Tree of 40 Fruits.”

To create such a complex piece of plant life, he used a process called grafting, which in non-science terms means splicing tissues of different plants together so they eventually grow in as one. While this may sound like the plant version of Frankenstein’s monster, Van Aken’s tree is firmly rooted (pun intended) as an art piece in addition to being a living, growing behemoth. In an interview with NPR, he shared that “the whole project really began with this idea of creating a tree that would blossom in these different colors and would bear these multitude of fruit.”

And what a multitude it is. Some of the current tree bearings include cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and even almonds. Initially beginning as one tree, Van Aken is currently cultivating 14 of his creations in various sites across the country, the precise locations of which can be found here. It may be for the sake of art, but the capability of creating such an immense piece of botany seems a possible solution towards impending world issues like food shortages and climate changes. Could this tree be a glimpse into our future?

Photo courtesy of Joan Mitchell Foundation

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