Every once in a while an idea comes along that’s so… American that it just blows you away. Some: like that $10 box at McDonalds, are dirty little American secrets that we like to keep in the back of our minds and only acknowledge at 3am when we’re craving a fourth meal of the day. Other’s though, like the beautiful Tree of 40 fruits, is so spectacular we want nothing more than to show it to the world.
Sam Van Aken; an art professor at Syracuse University first began this project in 2008, when he bought a bankrupt orchard. He began taking young trees and splicing budding branches from other types of trees onto them through a process known as chip graphing. Branch by budding branch over the course of five years, he successfully added forty different kinds of branch onto a single tree, and thus the tree of 40 fruits was born! As of now there are over 75 trees; some completely finished and others only part of the way there. When completed, they grow stone fruits, including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds in the fall. In the Summer they bloom in various shades of pink, white and violet.
Whether he planned it or not; the Tree of 40 fruits is symbolically American. It’s a mash up of many different things, heterozygusly co-existing. It’s beautiful in its own unique way, and it catches your eye immediatly. Going further than that, it’s
a product of unparralled imgination and creativity. Just think about all the different schools of specilization went into crafting it: botany, horticulture, art, and technology (chip graphing).
The Tree of 40 Fruits is a magnificent example of what can happen when art and technology collide. With technology advancing the way it is, I hope to see more products that rival even this. And if you ever visit New York State, be on the lookout for a blooming Tree of 40 Fruits!
If you want to know more about how the Tree of 40 Fruits was made, here’s Sam Van Aken at his TED talk: