The Tree of 40 Fruits is one of the series of fruit trees created by the New York-based artist Sam Van Aken using the technique of grafting. Each tree produces forty types of fruit, of the genus Prunus, ripening sequentially from July to October in the United States.
Sam Van Aken is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at Syracuse University. His family are Pennsylvania Dutch, and he grew up on the family farm. So there was the love growing plants from Infancy. With an Art background and passion for Art , he combined these great gifts in creating this unique tree.
In 2008, while looking for specimens to create a multicolored blossom tree as an art project, Van Aken acquired the 3 acres (1.2 ha) orchard of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, which was closing due to funding cuts. He began to graft buds from some of the over 250 heritage varieties grown there, some unique, onto a stock tree. Over the course of about five years the tree accumulated branches from forty different “donor” trees, each with a different fruit, including almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum varieties. Each spring the tree’s blossom is a mix of different shades of red, pink and white.
As of 2014, Van Aken had produced 16 Trees of 40 Fruit, installed in a variety of private and public locations, including community gardens, museums, and private collections. Locations include Newton, Massachusetts; Pound Ridge, New York; Short Hills, New Jersey; Bentonville, Arkansas; and San Jose, California. He has plans to populate a city orchard with the trees.