When I first heard about this tree in the news, I was very skeptical. How could one tree possibly grow forty different fruits? So like any good scientist I did some research and discovered these trees are real! The trees grow forty different varieties of stone fruit—peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots, and this year hopefully almonds.
The artist who developed the trees, Sam Van Aken, has a farming background and became concerned about the loss of variety in stone fruits that were commercially available. There are thousands of heirloom, native, antique, and hybrid varieties that rarely make it to the produce section of the local grocery store. Van Aken “sculpts” the trees by chip grafting. He takes a sliver from a tree that includes a bud and grafts it onto an incision made in the base tree. Each branch or group of branches that develops produces stunning blossoms in a variety of colors that bloom at different times through the spring. Then the blossoms become fruit that grow and ripen at different times through the summer.
The trees truly are a work of art! It takes about five years to develop a tree with forty varieties of fruit on it. Van Aken in a 2014 TEDxManhattan presentation explained his work:
I look at the tree of forty fruit as an artwork, a research project, and a form of conservation. As an artwork, what it does is it interrupts and transforms the every day. As a research project, it creates one of the first comprehensive timelines of when all these varieties blossom in relationship to each other, which becomes important when we consider pollination. And finally as a form of conservation, by taking all of these heirloom, antique, and native species, grafting them onto the trees of forty fruit, and then placing them throughout the country, in some small way, I’m creating my own type of diversity and preservation.Starting with God’s Word helps us understand how such a tree is possible. God created all plants and animals according to their kind (Genesis 1:11–13, 20–25). The inference is that they are to reproduce within their kind—not one kind evolving into a different kind as demanded by molecules-to-man evolution. The stone fruits on the tree of forty fruits all belong to same family (Rosaceae) and genus (Prunus). Creation scientists usually define kind (the term used in Scripture) at the family level since organisms within families can breed with each other and produce offspring. Since all the stone fruit trees belong to the same kind, it’s not surprising that they can co-exist on one tree together. I know this time of year I greatly appreciate all the wonderful colors, textures, and tastes that the Lord has created for us to enjoy!
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!
*Photographs courtesy of Sam Van Aken, TreeOf40Fruit.com.