In a magical marriage of art and nature, artist Sam Van Aken has created a living fairytale tree that blooms in multiple colors and produces 40 different kinds of fruit. The Syracuse University professor created the hybridized fruit tree, which grows more than 40 different kinds of stone fruit ranging from cherries and plums to peaches, apricots and almonds.
Aken was raised on a farm and he bought an orchard in New York that was in danger of being shut down. In the process he saved many rare varieties of fruit and started experimenting with hybridizing the trees to create his Tree of 40 Fruit. He created the tree by grafting parts of many different kinds of fruit trees onto a single tree. The grafted branches grow to become part of the main tree but produce different fruit, as well as a mosaic of multi-colored blossoms in the spring that are a sight to behold.
“First and foremost I see the tree as an artwork,” Van Aken told Epicurious. “I want the tree to interrupt and transform the everyday. When the tree unexpectedly blossoms in different colors, or you see these different types of fruit hanging from its branches, it not only changes the way you look at it, but it changes the way you perceive [things] in general.”
Thus far the artist has grown 16 of these magical trees that are dispersed throughout the country in museums, community centers and private art collections. Van Aken is now working on plans to grow a small orchard of his fantastical trees in New York City.
Images via Tree of 40 Fruit