Artist and Syracuse University professor Sam Van Aken has spent years creating a living masterpiece—the “Tree of 40 Fruit,” which bears 40 varieties of stone fruit.
With what he calls “sculpture through grafting,” Van Aken takes branches from different single-variety trees and painstakingly attaches them to a “master” tree. He’s traveled all over New York state collecting boughs that bear different heirloom varieties of peaches, plums, and apricots, and created a comprehensive timeline of when they blossom and bear fruit in relation to one another. The effect is a tree with different blossoms and leaves as well as different fruits.
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