Trees play a vital role in maintaining the environment. Without trees and plants, human life would not exist.. Since ages, trees were associated with knowledge, wealth and life by our mythologists. There are many examples like Kalpavruksha of Indian origin to Yew in Christianity and Bodhi in Buddhism. Never in the dreams, any one would have imagined a single tree that would give many varieties of fruits.
What Sam Van Aken’s ”Tree of 40’ achieved had left many horticulturists around the world in a state of shock. A visual arts associate professor at Syracuse University, and a farmer Mr Sam Van Akens, had produced a tree which gives 40 different types of fruits. The fruits such as plums, peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines are some types of fruits that grow on this tree.
The tree had been named as ”Tree of 40″” because of the fact that, the number comes in the Bible meaning ”bounty”. It was in the year 2008, this project took shape, when Van Aken found an orchard at the New York State Agricultural Equipment Station. About 200 types of plums and apricots were there in that orchard that was about to be abandoned. Even as a kid, Van Aken had great interest in farming. So he got this orchard farm for lease and did ” sculpture through grafting” that resulted in multi coloured tree that gave 40 types of fruits throughout and each blossoming at different time.
According to Van Aken, his work was an art work and not a scientific one, because the grafting process involved was old and already existed. He also stated that, he took great care in sculpting and grafting the tree to yield different fruits. Van Aken also spoke about how he travelled around New York to see different types of stone fruits for his project.
The chromosomal structures found in these plums, peaches, apricots etc were similar and a process called as ”chip grafting” was employed. Van Aken further added that, he grew up in a farm in Pennsylvania, north-east of USA. He was fascinated when he came across this grafting process ever since he was a kid. Initially, he tried grafting tomatoes to get plants having yellow and red fruits. Then he grafted cucumbers and watermelons also and found success. At the beginning, he grafted on to roots.
After three years, when lateral branches grow, chip grafting on new varieties was done. This chip grafting process uses bud to attach a rootstock to form a new plant. Around 16 ”Trees of 40” have been produced by Van Aken and they are now planted across United States in places where people would come and see. Van spoke about his interests in creating heirloom orchard as his major objective. These ‘‘Frankenstein’’ hybrid trees had indeed attracted the attention of many people and these people had also used the social media to share their views.